No extra pressure needed when Dons take on Wycombe Wanderers

“It will be two good teams going at it more so than it being a derby”

Friday, 24th September 2021, 3:35 pm

David Wheeler, who famously scored the goal to earn MK Dons promotion to League One in 2019, in action against Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling in the week during Wycombe Wanderers’ 6-1 humbling in the Carabao Cup

Just 35 miles separate Stadium MK from Adams Park, but the local derby feel between MK Dons and Wycombe Wanderers has been put to one side by Liam Manning.

More important for Dons’ head coach is their current run of form, which has seen them go seven games without defeat heading into the game at Stadium MK on Saturday.

As if the game needed any more weight adding to it, it also sees the team third in League One take on the team in fifth.

The magnitude of the game though has been put on the backburner for Dons, with little mention of the derby nature of it to the players.

“It will be two good teams going at it more so than it being a derby,” said midfielder Matt O’Riley. “We haven't really thought about it much, we'll just go into it trying to win the game.

“They're a really good team, they've kept a lot of the players from last season so it will be a tough game. But we've had tough games already - Ipswich away we went there and dominated - so we know we can beat these sorts of teams.

“Wycombe, from a physical point of view, are a really strong team so the message for us has just been to be ready for the business side of things and take control when we can.”

Wycombe, relegated from the Championship last season, have managed to keep hold of the majority of their squad, and have enjoyed a good start on their return to the third tier. Manning warned it would be another in an already long line of tough tests for his side against Ainsworth’s men.

He said: “From the outside, you can see they've got a group of players that is strong together, culturally they buy into what they're trying to do. They're in a good run too, so they're a difficult team. They don't carry many egos either it seems. We're expecting another difficult game tomorrow.

“They're clear in their identity. There is no right or wrong way to play football. Coaches have to create a framework and then get the players to buy into it and I think that's what they have. They're a handful.

“To me, the term 'direct' doesn't mean just smashing it forwards down the pitch, but they're direct in terms of playing forward with quality, run forward with quality, look to get balls and players in the box with quality, so for me, I don't want to seem detrimental to them but I see is a real strength of theirs which has allowed them to get results.

“We've looked at them, spoken about it and we have to make sure we win those battles, deal with their style and ultimately dominate the game.”