Dons set to make changes for FA Cup trip to struggling Reading

Mike Williamson previews the FA Cup first round tie with Reading
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Mike Williamson has hinted at changes to his side for the FA Cup first round trip to Reading on Saturday.

While the new head coach has been able to cast his eye over more of his squad in training this week, he has stuck to, by and large, a similar looking squad for his first three games in charge.

Sweating on the fitness of Ethan Robson, the likes of Dean Lewington, Ash Hunter and Nathan Harness are set to miss out on the game through injury, while players like Dawson Devoy, Mo Eisa and Jonathan Leko have only been seen fleetingly by Williamson.

"Normally in pre-season, you can tinker and look to get a good understanding," said the head coach. "We're having to do it on the job, so we've had to go with what we think is as solid as we've got.

"But look at Conor Grant for example - he wasn't in the squad for the first game, but has started the next two. It's up to us to give everyone that opportunity.

"We want to continue our winning form, regardless of the competition. But it's also another opportunity for me to make changes. There is no stronger or weaker team at the moment, we're still looking at who we've got in the building.

"We'll put out as strong a team as we can, but we'll be careful with it, because we don't want to risk anyone."

Williamson continued: "I love the FA Cup, though I've not really had any real experiences of it to be honest! For clubs like Gateshead, it was a real opportunity to earn the club a bit of money but to test yourself against the best players, get some good ties and put yourself in the shop window."

Troubles have hit Saturday's opponents Reading off the field this week, facing another winding-up order for unpaid wages.

The team meanwhile find themselves 23rd in League One, with just six points having had four deducted already this term.

Williamson though said the issues off the field could galvanise the Royals.

"They've got good players," he said. "They'll all want to use what is going on at the club to unite them, bring them together, that's just the natural by-product of professionals who want to win games. We'll have to work hard, but we're just focused on ourselves."

Dons skipper Alex Gilbey added: "I love the FA Cup, it's my favourite competition. I prefer a non-league team when it's dingy and dark, that's what the FA Cup is all about. But we'll go to Reading, try to beat them.

"Now it's about building the blocks, and going into every game wanting to win. We won't be taking our foot off the gas because it's the FA Cup, we want to win. Everyone wants to be involved in the FA Cup, it's exciting."