Dons were ‘close to the cliff edge’ in summer

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Sweeting knew last season’s play-off failure meant a full rebuild this summer

By missing out on promotion last season, MK Dons were ‘on a cliff edge’ knowing they needed a massive rebuild this summer.

The transfer window on Thursday with Dons bringing in 14 new faces to the squad over the summer, paying fees for five, extending three contracts and, somewhat inevitably, selling three key men.

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Sporting Director Liam Sweeting, the man charged with the Dons’ recruitment, admitted failing to get promoted last season meant losing the likes of Scott Twine and Harry Darling would be almost assured, leaving the club with the unenviable task of fully rebuilding ahead of the new campaign.

“It was a huge challenge this summer,” said Sweeting. “We knew we were facing a rebuild and the cliff edge we were facing if we didn’t get promoted. We knew there were players out of contract, some entering their final years and some players who had done really well.

“That happens in League One - you’re vulnerable to clubs higher up, and we know that and we’ve been through that before.

“Part of our model is to trade players, and to use that money to remain competitive, and that’s what I think we’ve done.”

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The scale of the rebuild though has meant heading into the new season, only four players from last season were available in the opening day squad at Cambridge United. Three straight defeats in League One showed the team was still very much in it’s infancy, while highlighting to Sweeting, they cannot afford to make such sweeping changes in a transfer window again.

He continued: “I don’t want to do this every summer. The average in League One is eight or nine. But the work we’ve been doing this summer is to ensure we don’t face a cliff-edge like this again.

“We’ve been more aggressive with contract lengths this time, so we won’t be doing 14 deals again next summer.

“It hasn’t been a perfect window - we’ve been beaten to targets by other clubs who can pay more in fees and wages. We know our unique selling point is the style, the opportunity we give and I believe we have the best developers of players in League One.

“We have our own ways of doing things, but it is extremely tough with the amount of work we had to do to be competitive from day one.”