Dan Micciche was delighted with returning captain Dean Lewington during his 55 minute stint in the FA Cup defeat to Coventry City on Saturday.
In his first game since November, Lewington marshalled the defence well, rolling back the years as he played a key role at both ends of the pitch in the opening half before being taken off shortly before the hour mark.
After he was substituted, which was always the intention of new Dons boss Micciche, Dons' defence looked uneasy and nervous, and conceded a sloppy goal within six minutes of his removal - the only goal of the game to send Dons out of the FA Cup and Coventry into the fifth round.
Speaking afterwards, Micciche praised Lewington's input.
"Having Dean Lewington for that amount of time is fantastic - he's the manager on the pitch," he said of his new player-coach. "I thought his quality was good on the ball and he linked up well with Ike (Ugbo) on that left-hand side.
"The plan was always for him to play 55 to 60 minutes, because he also played a similar time in the U23s on Monday. Of course he hasn't really played for a long time either."
Midfielder Ed Upson also praised the left back for his role in the dressing room and behind the scenes.
"He's a big character and has done a lot in the game, especially for this club," Upson added.
"He's a massive boost for the dressing room, not only on the pitch where the fans see him. He's a big help behind the scenes."