To do a job right, sometimes you need to believe in yourself. And never has that been truer than with Samir Carruthers.
The 23-year-old is quickly becoming one of the first names on Karl Robinson’s team sheet as his tenacious attitude and heart-on-his-sleeve style can single-handedly drag Dons into the attacking third.
Particularly away from stadium:mk, Carruthers has taken centre stage in the middle of the park as he looks to get his side onto the front foot, bringing the best out of Josh Murphy and Rob Hall in recent weeks while shying away from the headlines himself.
Stepping into the enormous shoes left by Dele Alli hasn’t been easy for the former Aston Villa man. Having struggled with confidence and form early this season, Carruthers found himself in and out of the side as Darren Potter and Diego Poyet made the central midfield zone their own. But without an attacking mind in there, Dons were often stifled, and Carruthers has become more of a regular feature again.
While he does give the ball away, and yells an outburst of child-like frustration when he does so, his manager believes it is what sets him apart and could see him play in the top flight.
Robinson said: “Sometimes his errors are his own downfall because of how hard he tries. I don’t mind that.
“Samir never makes an error like the errors we were making on Saturday before he came on. Samir is fantastic. He could go for millions.”
While few doubt his footballing ability, it’s his mental game that needs the most nurturing. Scoring just four times in his 60-odd appearances for the club hasn’t had the Cowshed roaring his name with much gusto, but his impact, ironically, is felt more now when he isn’t there - take the game at Sixfields on Saturday as a case in point.
Given a driving force in midfield when Carruthers was introduced on the hour mark, Dons were the better side after going 2-1 down to Ricky Holmes’ second of the afternoon against Northampton.
But without constant reassurance, Robinson feels his midfield maverick can lose his way, both on and off the field and is the key in his own downfall.
“Samir is weak mentally,” Robinson explained. “I don’t think he realises how good he can be. But he needs to believe in that. If he believes in himself as much as I believe in him, he’ll play in the Premier League.
“He’s a top, top player. He doesn’t get as much recognition from that fans as he should. He puts his body on the line, and he comes off a physical mess. He gives us everything he can. I haven’t seen a player put as much into our shirt as he does.
“He needs the support from the fans because he’s on the crest of being a top player. But if he doesn’t believe it, he won’t achieve his goals. I have to make him believe he’s the best.”