Dons facing their biggest ever challenge

Karl Robinson PNL-160502-110314002
Karl Robinson PNL-160502-110314002

MK Dons are in the middle of their hardest ever challenge.

Having played Chelsea last week in the FA Cup, Dons travel to take on Cardiff City tomorrow (Saturday), before hosting high flying Middlesbrough and a trip to play-off contenders Derby County in the space of seven days.

And the important games keep on coming with vital clashes against Bristol City, Blackburn Rovers and Huddersfield Town - teams fighting a similar fight to Dons this season.

“When you look at the challenge facing us in the next few months, this club has never faced such a fight,” said manager Karl Robinson. “It’s a fight we’re all willing to take on.

“It’s the challenge everyone wanted. We’re going up against the superpowers of the league. When you look at what Chelsea have spent, Cardiff used to be in the Premier League, and what Middlesbrough and Derby are spending, it doesn’t get much harder.

“We’ve only been in the relegation zone just once in the last four months so the players should be applauded for that.

“We have to make sure we’re ready, and focussed on each individual game, never looking beyond the next one.”

For now, that means focussing on the trip to the Cardiff City Stadium. The Bluebirds sit ninth in the Championship and have an excellent record in Wales, having lost just one game in the league at home all season.

But while Dons have only won once game away from home all season, against Rotherham on the opening day of the season, they have beaten Cardiff twice already this season.

Robinson said: “I know we’ve beaten them twice this season, but I don’t think it has much relevance on the game tomorrow.

“We’re going to a team ninth in the league. They’ve only lost once at home and we’ve only won one away.

“Russell Slade is one of the nicest men in football. He has some really top players too. They’ve got a really good team.”

Josh Murphy scored the winner in both games earlier this season as Dons beat Cardiff 2-1, both times at stadium:mk.

Murphy is part of a young partnership between Samir Carruthers, Jake Forster-Caskey and Rob Hall, which is beginning to come together in the Dons midfield.

“They’re great friends off the pitch too, which helps,” said the manager. “There’s a split forming now - the likes of Lewie, Potts, Dave, and then Jake, Hally, Samir. Nicky Maynard is hanging on to stay in the young group! He’s like the father figure to them.

“Josh looks the most tired of them all. He has never played so much football in his life. We have to look after him and protect him.”