No surprises in Anker’s performance for Dons boss Alexander

The exciting youngster made a real impression in his 75 minutes at Stadium MK against Northampton Town
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The performance of Joel Anker raised plenty of eyebrows at Stadium MK on Saturday, but head coach Graham Alexander was not particularly surprised by the teenager.

Having signed his first professional contract earlier this summer, Anker has been a part of the first-team training programme since the new boss took over, and has often been out in front in many of the runs and drills, putting him firmly in Alexander’s eye sight.

His stand-out show in the pre-season friendly defeat to Northampton Town on Saturday was full of youthful exuberance, pace and trickery too, coming close with a couple of first-half efforts before missing a header which should have put his side 2-1 up in the second.

Proving hard to knock off the ball despite his diminutive size, Anker was given a standing ovation when he came off the field with 15 minutes to go with the scores at 1-1 - Dons would go on to concede twice in the last two minutes to lose 3-1 - and while he may have given the supporters food for thought ahead of the League Two season opener next week, Alexander got exactly what he expected from the youngster.

“He earned the chance, I didn't give him anything,” said Alexander afterwards. “He put himself forward from the first day of pre-season training, putting himself out in front with the running.

“Everything we've put in front of him, he's attacked it, committed to it and has shown no fear. He's got loads of personality, he's tactically astute and fit.

“I don't care about age, numbers, wages, or names. I care about how my team needs to play and whoever helps us win, plays.

“What we've seen from Joel, he's doing everything that's being asked of him. I had no fears of playing him, but he's a young player and we have to make sure he realises that today doesn't count much for the next game.

“He has certainly shown what he can do, and hopefully shown the others players here that if you do what is expected of you, you'll play.”