Fitness first for Dons after brushing Rushden aside in first pre-season game

AFC Rushden & Diamonds 0-4 MK Dons
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Making it through their first game of pre-season unscathed was the most important thing for MK Dons’ assistant head coach Chris Hogg on Tuesday night.

Dons brushed aside non-league opponents AFC Rushden & Diamonds 4-0 at Hayden Road in their first run out since losing to Wycombe Wanderers in the League One play-offs in May.

The new-look Dons looked in control throughout, with two goals in each half from Josh McEachran Dan Kemp, Nathan Holland and Ethan Robson putting the game beyond Rushden’s reach.

With each player given 45 minutes, Hogg said more so than the scoreline, players’ fitness was the most important thing on the night.

“The first game is always about getting through it without any injuries,” he said afterwards. “There is nothing like games. The lads came through it, got some good fitness work in and it was good for them to play again.

“Players just love playing. We've had two solid weeks of training, we're building on it now and starting to ramp it out.

“But it was a good run out, it was good to see people at games again, and it was a really positive night.

“It's nice to see a few goals and for the boys to build up a bit of rhythm in those attacking areas. Our attacking work something we're coming around to now. Tonight we saw some really good signs.”

Still looking to strengthen the first team squad after a clear-out at the end of last season, Dons were left pretty thin on the ground and named two sides in each half full of youth prospects from the academy, the youngest of them being Callum Tripp at just 15.

The midfielder, who was named on the bench for the first team a few times last season, had a strong game in the centre of park and even got an assist to his name after sliding Kemp in to net Dons’ second just before half time.

“It was great to see some of the younger lads out tonight,” Hogg added. “Callum is one we have had training with us a little bit last season. He's a good human being, a good person, has good behaviours, like all of them really.

“They came here wanting to get better and to improve. I was really pleased with them.”