Young Dons likely to feature heavily in Trophy game with Northampton Town

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Youth is set to take over the MK Dons first-team on Tuesday night for the Bristol Street Motors Trophy game with Northampton Town

MK Dons are set to name a heavily youth-influenced side for their Bristol Street Motors Trophy game with Northampton Town next week.

Already through to the next round, Dons sit second in Group N behind Oxford United on goal difference. But the U's have played their final game already, and any victory for Dons on Tuesday night at Stadium MK will secure them a home draw for the next stage.

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Northampton meanwhile sit bottom of the group with just a point, and cannot qualify even with a win inside 90 minutes over Dons.

With Mike Williamson eager to instil his new style of play in the first-team, the game against the Cobblers is likely to prompt the head coach to side-line most of his regulars for the game, instead opting for youngsters from the academy instead to take to the field.

Academy manager Ben Smith said conversations were had several weeks ago about potentially using the BSM Trophy match as a run-out for the academy, handing the youngsters valuable experience in a first-team environment against professional opposition.

"Those conversations were had two or three weeks ago," he said. "We've already forecast and forward planning as to what this game could look like.

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"We have this open dialogue, which puts us in a good place. We feel comfortable enough to say that it's the right environment.

"We've got an accelerated pathway, and we have young people who are ready to go and play in these games out of merit rather than it being a token gesture. We don't want to lose the privilege of playing for the first-team, no matter what the competition is. You get there through hard work, commitment and talent.

"(Regular first-team football) has to be the plan, otherwise what's the point in having an academy? We want to create a pathway and give the opportunities but they have to be earned. They have to work hard and understand what it takes to have the opportunity to represent a football club at first-team level."