Spence happy in his new surroundings

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Dons needed a massive overhaul in the summer, and the marked change has come as little surprise to Jordan Spence.

During his two loan spells at stadium:mk last season, the 24-year-old effectively played in two different teams - the strong, confident side during the run up to Christmas, and the bare bones side which limped home at the end.

Now he’s back full-time, he has witnessed an in-depth squad reborn with confidence and most importantly, goals.

The huge shift, which saw manager Karl Robinson bring in nine players, including Spence, this season, was needed though, but isn’t too much of a surprise to the defender.

“Am I surprised? Yes and no,” he said. “When you look at sides in League 1, there is a lot of movement of players.

“It’s all down to intent. The intent for this club has always been promotion, and fighting at the top half of the table.

“The key has been the number of goals we’ve scored and how we’ve been able to acquire so many quality players at the top end of the pitch... and at the back, including myself!

“But goals get you out of this division, but they’ve been flowing nicely this year.”

Spence’s return to the club was a popular decision amongst fans after a string of excellent performances in an otherwise under-performing side at the end of last season made him stand out from the crowd.

But it seemed a long way off when he was released from West Ham, and was forced to train on his own at home to keep fit for potential suitors who would come knocking.

He said: “It was an interesting summer, but I was delighted to come back.

“The circumstances didn’t unfold in the most classic fashion.

“I wasn’t here for pre-season, so I had to do a lot of work on my own at home.

“It was the first time I’ve been in that situation. I had been affiliated with West Ham for a long time, and had never done a pre-season away from them.

“So going from that to doing one on my own was hard, but mentally it was a good thing.

“It allowed me to re-evaluate, and come back, possibly, even hungrier than if I’d have trained here. I think I came back in really good shape.

“It was different, but I’m glad to be back here and playing.”

And ‘back here’ is now Milton Keynes. Spence spent Dons’ free weekend moving the last of his possessions from East London up to his new home in town.

Although there are obvious benefits of living where he works, Spence has no intentions of sticking around - certainly not in League 1 anyway.

He believes that this Dons squad has the makings of finally achieving promotion.

“No-one is getting carried away,” he said. “We have to be realistic about what we’re doing this season, and we should be challenging for promotion.

“I don’t really look at the table, and I try not to pay attention to it unless someone tells me.

“At the end of the day, it’s all about the next game. I know it’s a cliché, but it’s the truth. We should be winning football matches.

“Our ambitions we’ve discussed internally, and we all know what we want to achieve.

“But externally, I think every game we play in we should be taking three points, and on the road we should be tough to beat.

“To be fourth is semantics when you see the quality of the squad and the players.

“What we’ve done is the acceptable mark, and now we need to kick on and chase the leaders.”