West Ham’s Conor Coventry was a key man in the centre of midfield for MK Dons during his loan spell
From one of the strongest position in the club, MK Dons suddenly face a shortage in the centre of the park.
The quality of talent Liam Manning had to choose from, particularly in the second-half of the season, meant any combination of players afforded a threat. And the position in the last few years has been pivotal for success in the style of play, beginning with Jordan Houghton’s integral role in Russell Martin’s early sides, harking back to Darren Potter’s similar play in the Karl Robinson squads of old.
Ten players are out of contract at Stadium MK this summer and the five loanees depart back to their parent clubs, leaving Dons potentially 15 players down and the centre of the field could look wholly different heading into the 2022/23 season.
Conor Coventry started every game after joining on loan from West Ham and consistently put in performances which earned him his reputation with the Hammers. Playing alongside the 22-year-old brought the best out of Josh McEachran too. In his first full season with the club, the former Chelsea and Birmingham City man established a strong partnership with Coventry as Dons found the form which fired them into the top three. But Coventry returns to West Ham, and McEachran is out of contract.
Behind the pair in the pecking order, Hiram Boateng has already confirmed his departure from Stadium MK after a ‘rollercoaster’ three years at the club. Adding an air of unpredictability and a bit more attacking sense, Boateng made 37 appearances for the club but found opportunities dry up with the partnership of Coventry and McEachran ahead of him.
Arguably the biggest decision facing Dons this summer is the future of David Kasumu. Without a doubt one of the best products to come from Dons’ academy in recent years, Kasumu would have been one of the first names on the team sheet heading into the new season, almost rubber-stamped when he pulled on the captain’s armband for the opening game of the season away at Bournemouth. But injuries ravaged his chances of establishing himself as a regular last season, missing the first two months of the campaign, and then another six weeks through January. And then like Boateng, Kasumu’s opportunities were limited behind the Coventry-McEachran axis.
Almost forgotten in the mix is deadline day signing from Manchester City Matt Smith. The Welsh international played just four time after signing, affording only brief glimpses of what he could be capable of.
Dons though will have options throughout the summer and though the midfield could look wholly different, it could be extremely familiar too. Kasumu is thought to be subject to an offer from the club to remain, but even if he leaves would be worth a lot in compensation for the club should be depart. McEachran too would be an obvious candidate to offer a new contract to given his influence and role in the side last season. The availability of Ethan Robson too would be an easy fit, having spent the first half of the season at the club and recently released from Blackpool.
The style of play too will also leave the club open to plenty pitching themselves for a potential move to Milton Keynes, offering Liams Manning and Sweeting with plenty to ponder this summer.