Tucker’s decisions going ‘through the roof’ as he adapts to Dons’ style of play

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The young defender has seen his workload increase significantly since moving to MK Dons

Changing and adapting to MK Dons’ style of play is not an easy transition and it is forcing players like Jack Tucker to rethink their whole game understanding.

The 22-year-old centre-back was a target for Dons last January while playing at Gillingham, considered potential cover, or indeed replacement, for Harry Darling as Swansea City’s interest swirled.

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Though neither move came off until the summer, Tucker has been shifted about in Dons’ back-line, more recently sat on the bench as the side has struggled in League One.

On Tuesday night against Walsall, Dons had their backs to the wall at times as the League Two side went after a goal to get them level in the tie after Henry Lawrence’s 63rd minute goal put the visitors in front at the Poundland Bescot Stadium. But that scenario brought out the best in Tucker, back into the side for the Papa John’s Trophy game.

Clearly a solid and dependable player when it comes to the nitty-gritty of defending, it has been the more technical side of Dons’ game which has forced Tucker to rethink his formative and engrained habits established at Priestfield.

In passing alone, Tucker is making twice as many per game as he did at Gillingham, and that’s only scratching the surface of the changes to his game he is having to make, according to head coach Liam Manning.

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“Tucks has worked a certain way for a long part of his career, his whole career ultimately, and it doesn’t just change over night,” he explained.

“We looked at his stats, and on average he was making 21 passes last year, and now he’s up to 48.

“And then you throw on top of that the number of extra decisions he has to make, scanning around, and the number of decisions goes through the roof.

“Going from making 20 to 150 decisions takes time, and it’s not easy. It’s like playing a different game, and you’re going to get it wrong sometimes.

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“But what we do here is support him, and help him through that. If he is able to learn, which he is, you’ll progressively see a good player come out in time.

“Jack is tough on himself, he knows the level he is at and the level he wants to get to. And I think you’ll see from him that he reflects honestly on how he plays, where he’s at. He will continually improve in the time he is with us.”