Pre-season as a player much preferred to being a manager, Lewington admits

“You understand not all decisions are made with one reason in mind”

Dean Lewington has just finished his 22nd pre-season campaign, but while it has ended like most of the others, it is a welcome return after the drama of his 21st.

The departure of Russell Martin to Swansea City a week before the League One campaign kicked off last summer forced Lewington into a management role he was not especially keen on, but one he had to take on ahead of the opening day trip to Bolton Wanderers.

While Lewington’s men that day came within seconds of an emotional victory at the University of Bolton Stadium, getting back to being a player for this pre-season campaign is a welcome return for the skipper.

“It’s nicer walking off the training ground, getting changed and saying ‘see you later’ to everyone!” he said on the eve of the new season.

“It gives you a deeper insight into how managers work, and how much goes in behind-the-scenes that sometimes as players you're unaware of. I'm quite fortunate in that, with my dad, I've always had a manager's lens in the family where you understand not all decisions are made with one reason in mind. You try and do the greater good.

“But doing it for the week opened up my eyes to the strains it takes to put a team out. It's pretty hard.”

Dons, who have lost just once on the opening day of the season in the last 10 years, head to Cambridge United on Saturday with more than 1,000 travelling supporters expected.

And it’s a game Lewington and his team-mates are excited for.

He said: “It's the first day - you have that long wait, you're training for six weeks building for this one game. It's that excitement to go out there and get things off and running.

“It's the game all the fans look forward to, because it all starts again with all the fun and excitement to follow.”