Karl Robinson believes Saturday’s opponents Millwall are heavy favourites for promotion this season, but feels his MK Dons side are more than capable of beating them.
Millwall lost to Barnsley in the Play-off Final at Wembley last season, and got their League 1 campaign off to a fine start with a comfortable 3-0 win over Oldham at the Den last weekend.
CITIZEN STATS CENTRE: MK Dons vs Millwall head-to-head
Dons too got off to a winning start on their return to League 1, beating Shrewsbury 1-0 at Greenhaus Meadow.
One negative mark alongside the Shrewsbury win though was a groin injury sustained by Samir Carruthers. The midfielder looks set to be sidelined for a couple of weeks, and will miss the game against Millwall.
While Dean Bowditch came on to bag a brace away at Newport County midweek, and Scott Wootton came through 90 minutes, Robinson confirmed the pair will be on the bench, while Chuks Aneke and Ben Reeves are still out.
Missing those five, Robinson admits his side ‘are not ready’ for the challenge of the season ahead, but will use the Millwall encounter as a yardstick to see how good his side can be this year.
He said: “We go into it without a fully fit Dean Bowditch and Scott Wootton, without Ben Reeves, Chuks Aneke and Samir Carruthers, and they’re a big part of the starting line-up.
“Ben Reeves starts training again on Monday, so he could be fit by the EFL Cup game with Reading. The Cup competitions allow us to use them as growing youth players or topping up senior players.
“Millwall are clear favourites to get promoted, so it’ll be a huge challenge for us. It’ll be a right ding-dong game.
“We’re not ready yet. We will only get better though. It’s a balance game for me to see where we are. If we can get three points on Saturday, we’ll have six, and a Cup win with the kids, it won’t be a bad week.”
The sides will each feature a former favourite of the other when Dons and Millwall meet for the first time in more than six years.
For Millwall, they’ll see former midfielder Ed Upson lining up for MK Dons.
READ MORE: New experience for Upson to play his Millwall mates
And the home fans will see Shaun Williams for the first time since his departure from Stadium MK in January 2014.
Williams, now 29, was a firm fans’ favourite in the Cowshed, but his departure was one of several to leave as Robinson began to rebuild his team - one that won promotion a year later.
“He was a tremendous servant for us,” Robinson added. “It’ll be good to see him back out on that pitch. We know he’ll be striking it from all over the place, and what a threat he is from set pieces.
“I was disappointed to lose him, but, like we’re doing now, I had to shift the team.
“Looking at the last team picture he was in, there’s probably only about seven players left.”