Karl Robinson has backed defender Scott Wootton to be a key player in his side when he regains full fitness.
The 24-year-old was released by Leeds at the end of last season, but was only signed by Dons two weeks ago, meaning he missed pre-season and is playing catch-up.
Dons let four central defenders go in the summer - Jordan Spence, Antony Kay, Matt Upson and Kyle McFadzean - while bringing in Paul Downing from Walsall and Wootton on free transfers.
While Downing has looked solid on his two appearances so far, Robinson believes Wootton will be the man to lead the defence when he returns to full fitness.
“He is brave, you don’t want to get into a tackle with him,” Robinson told the Citizen. “I remember him smashing Josh Murphy in a tackle last season. I told him to leave it out, but he looked at me and said ‘no.’
“It’s important to have a player in the club who will, when something is on the line, he will go through you to get it.
“He only missed one header on Tuesday (against Newport County) and it came on the hour, he just looked fatigued.
“I like centre halves who can play balls in behind for strikers. Sometimes, we look short. He played a few unbelievable passes that almost got Kabongo (Tshimanga) in, and when you’ve got Kieran Agard or Nicky Maynard up there, we’re going to have people who can get on the end of them.
“But I think Paul Downing has been excellent so far. I’ve got a real decision on my hands. We’ve got three 24-year-old centre backs. We’ve managed to cut 14 years from that partnership.”