Dons go Dutch with a view to the future

Karl Robinson
Karl Robinson

Karl Robinson wants to fly the MK Dons flag overseas after he embarked on a scouting mission to Holland last weekend.

The final whistle had barely blown at the Banks’s Stadium in Walsall on Saturday before Robinson hit the road for mainland Europe.

His mission - to begin laying the seeds for Dons’ future recruitment.

While on the continent, he watched two games and met with the head of recruitment at Dutch giants Ajax.

The reason behind the trip was not only to cast his eye over a handful of potential summer signings, though.

On countless occasions, Dons have missed out on signings because other clubs in the division has been able to splash the cash.

Venturing into Europe may well uncover a gem or two, though once more it points towards a transfer market which puts a premium on domestic talent, inevitably forcing clubs to look beyond the borders.

But Robinson hopes that by treading areas that other League 1 clubs haven’t, he may find the trump card or two he needs to get Dons out of the division.

“We will look at northern Europe and see if we can bring people in,” he said.

“We are broadening our horizons. If we want to be successful in the future, we need contacts in other countries.

“We have spent too long challenging other clubs in this league for similar types of players.

“We can’t compete with big spending teams, so rather than sitting here moaning, I thought we’d change tact.”

That tact has seen former Northampton Town caretaker manager Andy King drafted in to work with Head of Recruitment Bobby Winkelman in a bid to extend Dons’ reach.

Robinson’s trip abroad is probably the first of many that the club will take in coming months as they prepare to spend their summer transfer kitty.

He said: “It was really productive and it’s a really unique market.

“Andy King has come in to work under Bobby (Winkelman) and Gary (Waddock) has played in Belgium, so we thought we should make use of their contacts.

“I saw three games, I had two meetings and met the people in charge of recruitment at Ajax.

“I left the Walsall game on Saturday, didn’t have time to celebrate, and got in at 3am Dutch time.

“I have driven 1,300 miles in three days, but it is for the future of this football club and well worth putting the hours in.

“People don’t see that scouts go up and down the motorways everyday, and it’s very time consuming.”

The manager had hoped to bring in a fresh face this week, and said on Saturday that he was close to signing a new striker.

But by Tuesday morning, he said the deal had collapsed, leaving him frustrated once more.

He said: “We keep hitting brick walls. It’s frustrating because we were told it could be done this week.

“Then they pulled out, the player get injured, and then I pull out.

“We are still fighting to get players in and hopefully we can kick on from Saturday.”

With Chris Long not expected to return from Everton for at least two months after picking up a thigh strain and Dean Bowditch sidelined once more with a hip problem, Robinson will be heaping responsibility on Izale McLeod for the foreseeable future.

Though the need for a striker remains, the club’s all-time leading scorer may just have found his scoring boots in time.