Robbo desperate for Walsall game to go ahead

Karl Robinson hopes the rain doesn't play havoc with Dons' fixture with Walsall on Boxing Day. Picture: Connor Perrin
Karl Robinson hopes the rain doesn't play havoc with Dons' fixture with Walsall on Boxing Day. Picture: Connor Perrin

‘WELL, the weather outside is frightful’ sang Dean Martin. But he wasn’t talking about the torrential rain which saw most of the weekend’s League 1 football called off.

And with the conditions predicted for Christmas and Boxing Day to make even Noah nervous, MK Dons will be taking every provision to ensure their game against Walsall goes ahead – or that fans won’t have too far to travel home should it be postponed in the afternoon.

“I’d be disappointed if it was off,” manager Karl Robinson said. “We’ve had a lot of warning and a lot of time to prepare.

“Making sure the pitch is playable and making sure the game goes ahead should be at the forefront of the ground staff’s minds because we need this game to go ahead.

“If the groundsman suspects a slight problem with the pitch then we’d have to call a referee in at maybe around 12pm for a pitch inspection.

“With it being Walsall, I suspect they wouldn’t be leaving until about 11am anyway, so we’d try and limit the amount of travelling the fans have to do.

“Doncaster wanted to leave the pitch inspection until 2pm but my worry was that the fans would already be there. But to be fair to Dean Saunders and his team, they made the decision earlier which meant most of the fans were only a third of the way there.”

Dons’ clash with Doncaster fell victim to the waterlogged Keepmoat Stadium pitch at around 12pm on Saturday, though Robinson believes it could well have been a blessing in disguise.

On Friday, both Luke Chadwick and Stephen Gleeson were ruled out due to long-term through injuries – Chadwick picking up knee ligament damage after an innocuous accident in training, while Gleeson is understood to have broken his foot.

Robinson said: “We’re disappointed for the fans (that Saturday’s game was called off) but we had a lot of people out injured, so it was a blessing in disguise.

“We lost Stephen Gleeson and Luke Chadwick the night before the game, so we didn’t have a lot of time to work on shape and set pieces, so we were going into it a bit blind.

“The players were disappointed because they felt we had enough strength in depth. But it was just one of those things.”

Without a game on Saturday, the players were out on Sunday getting in an extra training session, and again on Christmas Eve before taking Christmas Day off in preparation for Walsall on Boxing Day.

Fortunately for Robinson, the all-weather dome at Woughton on the Green has been laid with new astro-turf, which means his team can prepare for the game without having to dodge the puddles.

He said: “We’re very well prepared now. We’ve got some wonderful new astro-turf laid down in the dome which allows us to train whatever the weather.

“I hope all the players are ready for all the challenges the Christmas period brings. We have a lot of tough games in there and we have to make sure we prepare in the right way. They’re all raring to go.”