Manning can see captains throughout the Dons dressing room

“There are so many people who are willing to step up and take responsibility for the team”

Friday, 3rd September 2021, 2:16 pm

Harry Darling and Matt O’Riley have worn the captain’s armband for MK Dons this season, as have Dean Lewington and David Kasumu. Speaking about the leaders in his team, Liam Manning said there are plenty who could step up and wear the captain’s armband in his squad.

Wearing the captain’s armband might be a signal to the referee of the on-field leader, but Liam Manning has seen plenty of leaders in his dressing room already.

Four players have pulled on the armband so far this season - Dean Lewington, David Kasumu, Matt O’Riley and Harry Darling - and the Dons head coach believes there are a lot of other candidates who could do just a good job.

He said: “Harry stepped up the other night and did it, Warren could do it, Matt O'Riley has done it, David Kasumu when he comes back could do it, Ethan Robson could do it - there are so many people who are willing to step up and take responsibility for the team, it's such an important and powerful thing.

“They're young too, which is quite rare. When you watch a lot of football, and academy football, having communication and leadership in young people isn't so evident.

“When I look at the group, I see so many people who are able to do it and do it in different ways. I know they're so young, but I look at them like they're 28, 29-year-olds because they are so mature, so disciplined. We haven't got egos, it's a humble group.”

Daniel Harvie said Darling, who scored his first goal for the club while wearing the armband on Tuesday night against Burton, is a natural leader but when Lewington is about, he will always be the man leading the team.

“Harry is brilliant,” Harvie said. “He's very vocal on the pitch, he has a good opinion on the game. It's a proud moment for him too, as it was for Matt O'Riley. It's a great honour to lead the team out and they've done a great job.

“But if Skip is in, then he's captain, but it's up to the gaffer who takes that baton.”