Full back George Williams admitted he wasn’t ready for first team action when he was released by Karl Robinson as an 18-year-old.
The 23-year-old has come full circle since being cut loose by Dons when he was 18. Finishing university, Williams played non-league football for Worcester before being picked up by League 1 outfit Barnsley.
Having played in the League 1 play-off final last season, Williams was released and snapped by his former boss to complete a return the club he grew up with.
This time around though, he admits he is far more prepared to mount a challenge for a starting role.
“I wasn’t ready to step into first team football when I was released,” he said. “I’ve gone away and I’d have different experiences. I went to university, I’ve played non-league football and built up to where I am now, and I’m back and ready to prove myself.
“Looking at the team, there have been plenty of players who came through the academy: I’ve just done it a slightly different way.
“It’s a club that prides itself on bringing young players through, so I guess you can say I’m in that category again.”
Having grown up as a right back primarily, Williams was deployed on the opposite flank at Oakwell, and feels he can challenge both George Baldock and stalwart Dean Lewington for their positions next year.
He said: “I’ve played 20-odd games at left back in League 1, but I’d played my whole career at right back until then. I feel comfortable on either side.
“I’ll be pushing on either side - right back or left back. I’ll play anywhere to be honest.
“Everyone will fight for their spot, it’s good for the squad and it’s healthy to have that competition. It keeps everyone on their toes.”