Dons have worked too hard to let their promotion dreams slip at this late stage, according to Carl Baker.
Having suffered three defeats in the space of seven days to Coventry, Chesterfield and Preston, Dons slipped to fourth in League 1, now four points adrift of the automatic promotion spots.
But with 11 games to go, Baker says the squad, while down on confidence, isn’t going to let their hard work go to waste by letting their heads drop at this stage.
“We’re all really hurting at the minute,” he admitted. “We haven’t been at it in the last few games but we can’t crumble now. We have to keep at it and we have to work harder now more than ever.
“We’ve done well all season, so we can’t let it fall away now, we’ve worked too hard. The last few weeks haven’t been acceptable but we’ll keep fighting.
“It’s not a lack of work ethic. It has hurt us a lot, just as much as the fans. We want to pick points up and be at the top of the league.
“This is where we’ve got to stand up and be counted. For me, this is where you go under or stand up like men.”
Preston went into Saturday’s game on the back of an incredible run of six wins and a draw in their preceding seven League 1 matches, and their confidence as they ran out 2-0 winners.
And though both goals saw lapses in defence come back to haunt Dons, Baker believes he and his team-mates are capable of putting together a similar run before the season it out.
He said: “The goals we’ve been giving away have been poor. We want to be at the top challenging and put it right against Walsall. We need to get back to winning ways as soon as possible.
“If you put a win and a good performance together, it can turn things around.
“Things aren’t going our way, but we’ve missed certain players. We’ve got decent players, and that shouldn’t have affected us the way it has.
“We’re all in this together, and we’ve got to believe we can go out on Saturday and pick up a result.”