Neilson targets a minimum of three players in January

Robbie Neilson will scour Europe for the best players he can to improve his MK Dons squad.

Thursday, 22nd December 2016, 11:51 am
Updated Thursday, 29th December 2016, 3:30 pm
Robbie Neilson with chairman Pete Winkelman

Having cast his eye over his new side, Neilson admits he's still assessing what he has and what he needs, but has earmarked three key areas he wants to improve when the January transfer window opens.

And though he has an in-depth knowledge of the game north of the border, Neilson says he won't just be looking to Scotland for new recruits.

"We’ll look everywhere, not just one country," he said. "There’s a huge market down here in England, especially with the U23s and the loan market, but we’ll look everywhere - England, Scotland, Ireland, Europe - to get the best value for money.

"We haven’t got players in every position, we have to shift people about and that’s asking a lot of people who haven’t had a lot of game time to go and play out of position.

"I’m looking to go through the spine of the team to give us a bit of strength in there."

Fans have been crying out for a potent centre forward for a long time - since the departure of Sam Baldock in 2011 - and though the likes of Patrick Bamford, Will Grigg and Benik Afobe had been in the goals, all three were loan deals and never made permanent.

Having lost last time out against Gillingham, Neilson refused to blame the lack of a striker, saying the inability to rotate some of his tired players has made a big impact on what he needs to bolster next month.

He said: "I don’t think it was about a centre forward, but the ability to rotate the squad a little bit. We went through three games with pretty much the same team. We made one or two changes, but if you look around at the more successful teams in this league, they’re able to rotate five or six players.

"It’s not just about games, but also about the travelling. It’s not just the 90 minutes; it’s everything else that comes along with it. So when you think you’ve only got 13, or 14 players who can do it for you, then it’s difficult to rotate.

"We’ve got three key areas we want to strengthen and get them done as quickly as possible. We’ll concentrate on the rest of the squad after that. We’ve got a good idea what we’re looking for, in terms of number one and number two targets – it’s a case of lining them up as early as possible in the window.

"We have areas we’re looking at, but when you start looking into that second phase, we’re looking at players who can add quality to what we’ve got."

And it looks likely that incomings won't be the only dealing Dons have to do in January. While Jack Hendry's loan deal from Wigan expires next month, and isn't expected to be renewed, Neilson will also hold talks this week with George C Williams (Fulham) and Ryan Colclough (Wigan) about whether Dons continue their deals until the end of the season or cut them short to free up space on the wage bill.

"It’s something I need to look at," said the manager. "I‘m still assessing what I’ve got, but I’ve got an idea of what I want to do.

"We’ve got some loan boys who I need to talk to and see what we do in the next day or two, but it’s a case of trying to tweak the squad a bit."