A partnership once described as MK Dons’ ‘Rolls Royces’ are ready meet again, this time on opposing teams.
Darren Potter and Stephen Gleeson once ran the show in the centre of the park at stadium:mk, but will go head-to-head when Birmingham City visit on Saturday.
Gleeson left Dons a little over a year ago, with his destination set for the Championship up the M6 at St Andrews.
“I had a real belief he could play at a higher level,” said Dons boss Karl Robinson. “He turned down so many opportunities to stay at this club. He’s a gifted individual. I’m so happy he and his family are doing well.
“I always have an eye on his performances.
“He’s someone I’ve had more arguments with than anyone else, but we both know that’s because I care for his career.
“I was really sad when he went.”
But Robinson knows his former midfielder will get a fond reception on his return.
He said: “I hope the fans give him the respect he deserves.
“I think when you score a goal from 25 yards into the top corner in an FA Cup game against AFC Wimbledon, there won’t be many people here not giving him a round of applause. He’ll have iconic status at stadium:mk along with Jon Otsemobor.
“And I think he played over 250 games for this club too, he was certainly here for a long time.”
Gleeson’s long term midfield partner Potter has also had opportunities to leave Dons, according to Robinson.
The 30-year-old has taken to the Championship like a duck to water, given more time on the ball to orchestrate Dons’ play out from the back.
And though his influence on the side is arguably even bigger this season as Dons took the step up to the Championship, Robinson said he’s not remotely surprised at Potter’s performances of late.
He said: “I knew he’d be able to cope because he’s played at that level. You don’t play for the clubs he’s played for if you’re average.
“We shouldn’t have Darren Potter here, but he’s chosen to be here. It works for him, because of where he lives and his relationship with me.
“He’s like a robot. And I used to describe him and Stephen as the Rolls Royces - it’ll be interesting to see them come up against each other on Saturday.
“Potter played the support act to Stephen, Dele (Alli), and now to Diego (Poyet) and Samir (Carruthers). He’s not once come and asked for more. That’s worth it’s weight in gold. He goes about his business in a calm and calculated way.”
And while one of his former partners will be in his face on Saturday, and another playing in the Premier League for Tottenham, Potter’s latest protégé in Diego Poyet has certainly impressed his new manager since signing on loan a week ago.
“I thought Diego Poyet’s performance on Tuesday night was as good as I’ve seen in midfield for many years,” Robinson added. “I’ve got two top players there. And I’m really excited about that. We’ve got to find a way of getting those two in the team and still have the offensive play.”