Karl is counting on a bit of continuity

Tom Flanagan, David Martin, Lee Hodson and Stephen Gleeson have been in and out of the side this season. Pic: Lee Scriven
Tom Flanagan, David Martin, Lee Hodson and Stephen Gleeson have been in and out of the side this season. Pic: Lee Scriven

Chopping and changing is a part of any football manager’s job, but Dons boss Karl Robinson hopes he can find a consistent starting 11.

Dons have fielded the same starting line-up in consecutive games just once this season - against Notts County and then Peterborough.

Only six players are in double figures for League 1 appearances, with Darren Potter the only man to have played all 14 games.

Away form is a concern for the manager too, with no points on the road since the 1-0 win over Sheffield United on August 31.

And Robinson is convinced that with a bit more consistency in the team, Dons away form will turn around.

He said: “That’s what continuity brings. When you go away from home, the home side will inevitably put you under a period of pressure.

“And in those situations, you need to know what the guy next to you is going to do, so you can react. We’re not getting that.

“We can work on it in training, but you can’t replicate the atmosphere and intensity.

“We’ve snatched at things, we’ve not taken our chances and we’ve made one or two really big errors. We’ve not had a run of games where we’ve been able to put together partnerships.

“Football is a team sport. There are partnerships all over the pitch, but we’ve not been able to field many of them together. We’ve just not been able to see out periods of pressure.

“I can’t have any qualms with the results against Carlisle and Stevenage – we deserved to lose.

“The Leyton Orient game, I felt a draw would have been fair.

“But I honestly believe the rest of the games we should have won.”

Those extra 10 points would see Dons comfortably in the play-off spots.

While Dons have picked up just three points from the last 15 available, they are still just a win away from the top six.

Leyton Orient, Wolves and Peterborough are beginning to stretch their legs at the top, making an early break for glory, but it’s still all to play for in the top half.

And similarly to last season, Robinson hopes a good run of victories will catapult his side up the table.

“We’re a good enough side to take the bull by the horns, when we have everybody fit,” he said.

“It’s a very difficult league. Tranmere aren’t a bad side. Bristol City, Sheffield United - there are some good teams down there.

“The unpredictability of the league is always there, and it’s important that we keep our feet on the ground.”

One player who has responded to Robinson’s call for improvement though is Jason Banton.

After a positive start, the on-loan Crystal Palace winger’s form dipped and he disappeared from the side.

But after knuckling down, and a few stern words from his manager, Robinson is delighted with the result - a rejuvenated winger, and a terrific individual goal against Tranmere.

Robinson said: “Jason is going through an interesting time with us. He came in and started well, but he got lazy.

“He wasn’t getting on the ball enough, I felt he wasn’t doing everything he can do.

“We had some frank talks about what he has to do to play for this club. And we pulled him out the side for two weeks.

“He knew why. We had straight and honest talks – shouting – but he has come back in great form. His attitude has been sensational.

“When you work hard, you play well. The results will follow and the performances will too.”