“I don’t think asking for a starting 11 is greedy,” said Karl Robinson just days before the season starts. But time is fast running out.
With the season starting this Saturday against Shrewsbury, Dons have just five new faces among their ranks - though one won’t even be fit for another three months.
Ed Upson, Paul Downing, two George Williamses and Chuks Aneke have come in to build Robinson’s threadbare squad, but the manager knows, having lost 13 players from last season, four and a half in isn’t enough, and it’s a frightening position to be in.
“We’re worried about numbers because we want to be successful,” he said.
“But we could worry and just get numbers in, but we want quality not quantity.
“Don’t think we’re not scared. But the best rides at the fairgrounds are the scariest but people queue for hours to get on those. We’re just trying to get the right players.
“And if they don’t, we have to be honest and say we didn’t get our targets.”
The money is there for Robinson. A third of his playing budget - which encompasses paying the players in the first team, potential transfer and agents fees - is still on the table ready to be spent, but the manager is struggling to find what he wants.
“We didn’t get our ‘A’ targets, but one or two might still come off,” he admitted.
“We’ve reduced the net, but there are a lot more clubs competing for the players now. Some are in the Championship, some can pay more than us, some are on par. We’ve not lost out to a team on par with us yet.
“I don’t think fans should be disappointed. I won’t apologise for aiming high. We were criticised for not getting the best.
“But we’re not as snookered as people think.”