Dons have big Championship ambitions, says Church

Simon Church in action against Chelsea.
Simon Church in action against Chelsea.

Simon Church and his new MK Dons team-mates aren’t going to settle for simply staying up in their first season in the Championship.

The striker, who signed in the summer from Charlton, played 45 minutes on Monday night against a Chelsea XI, with the young Dons side coming off second best in a 2-1 defeat.

With Dons ready to make their bow in the second tier, Church, who played in the Championship last season, says there is too much ambition in the squad to accept simply staying in the division at the first attempt.

“We can go as far as we want,” said the 26-year-old. “There’s no targets, but we’ve got to take it as it comes.

“The players are ambitious, the manager is ambitious, the club is ambitious. Why should we settle for just staying up?

“It’s a long season and a lot of things can change. It sounds boring, but we’ve got to take each game as it comes.

“You cannot take anything for granted. You see it every week in the Championship - teams at the bottom can beat teams at the top.

“We have to be ready for each game because each one is different. It’s a very physical league too, with a lot of quality out there but we’ve got a lot of quality in our squad and we have to think about ourselves.”

Dons played 12 games during the off-season, taking four wins and six defeats along the way, though the results are of little concern for Church, who is chomping at the bit for the season to get started once again.

He said: “It has gone well. I had a bit of a knock last weekend, but it has been good. The boys have done really well, worked hard, and we’re looking forward to the season starting now.”

“It has come around quickly. Games come quick and fast and we’re feeling good. There’s a lot of togetherness in the squad, and the gaffer has brought in a lot of players with quality. We’re a really tight-knit group.

“We’re not setting ourselves any targets at the moment, we’re just looking forward to Rotherham.”

Church admitted being the new boy at a new club can be a bit daunting, but after initially feeling nervous about meeting his new team-mates, the pre-season campaign, including a tour of Ireland, has helped him settle in and feel much more at home as an MK Dons player.

“It feels like the first day at school, starting at a new club. You tend to hold yourself back a bit at first, but the lads have been great, and it is a club where you can come in and learn.

“At previous clubs, maybe I haven’t had that. I think we all feel comfortable here, play well and are allowed to express themselves.

“It’s a different way of football, I’ve had to adjust to it and I’ve found it enjoyable. The test will be the season. We’ve built up to it, we all feel fit and ready.”

And as for personal targets, Church is keeping his cards firmly to his chest.

“I’ve never set myself targets because if you don’t reach them, you feel like you’ve had a bad season!” he joked. “For me, I want to come here and play well and get back to playing at a high level.”