STEPHEN Gleeson turned down the chance to play Championship football to help MK Dons fight for League 1 promotion next season.
The 23-year-old put pen to paper on a new two year deal this week, ending speculation linking him to clubs in the English second tier, with his previous contract due to expire at the end of June.
Manager Karl Robinson admitted that Gleeson had the opportunity to move on up the divisions this summer, with a host of Championship clubs showing an interest in the Irish midfielder.
“Stephen Gleeson is putting his own personal career on hold,” Robinson said. “I know he gets some criticism but he has turned down Championship moves for us, he has put his own career on hold for the fans and for his team mates here at MK Dons and it shows the mark of him as an individual that he is willing to do that.
“Stephen Gleeson is possibly one of the most talented players that I have worked with in a long, long time and I think he has what it takes to play in the Premier League one day.”
Gleeson added: “Since the play-offs it has been on everyone’s minds about what I was going to do but even before the play-offs, I knew I wanted to stay.
“I do want to play at a higher level, but I want to do it with this team. I have been here for three years now, I have made a lot of friends and I am settled in the area. I want to get into the Championship with this team and with the manager.”
Gleeson’s new deal will come as a relief to fans concerned about the future of Karl Robinson. After long discussions with chairman Pete Winkelman regarding next season, Robinson sounded confident of his future ahead of a holiday to Spain later this week, and is leaving his transfer dealings in the capable hands of his recruitment team in his absence.
When it comes to new men coming in, Robinson has hinted that they could include familiar faces from Dons’ League 1 campaign just gone, which could mean Winkelman signing off a cheque or two in the weeks ahead.
“The chairman has told me that if there is someone I want and we can afford then we can go and get him,” said Robinson. “He’s been brilliant. “There are people who have done well against us this year. People who have been man of the match in some games. You’ve just got to make sure you get it right, and bring the right type of people in.
“I want people who understand what this club is about, because it’s a unique club, so they have got to have the right mentality as well. We want 22 players which is still small, but it’s bigger than what we’ve had this year. “
Question marks still hang over the possible signing of Alan Smith after he was released from Newcastle. Robinson said there had been interest from abroad, but that Dons were still in the hunt for his signature.
He said: “We’ve had a little chat and it’s looking good. But don’t I take anything for granted in football because there are so many things that can change people’s decisions.”