O'Riley is growing in stature in MK Dons' performances
"Now I feel like I'm being quite important in terms of how we play"
There have been a lot of surprise packages for MK Dons this season, not least the signing of Matt O'Riley.
The 20-year-old former Fulham midfielder signed as something of an unknown quantity in January. Having trained with the side for months already, his arrival coincided with the signing of Harry Darling two days prior. While Darling made an immediate impression with his performances at centre back, O'Riley felt he was slow to get his feet under the table, despite finishing off a great team move against AFC Wimbledon in only his second game.
He said: "When I first came in, I was contributing with goals but my performances were only OK - I was just there. But now I feel like I'm being quite important in terms of how we play which is more pleasing.
"This is the most football I've played in my whole career. In U23s football, you only play about 20 games a season with a lot of rest in between. Now I'm playing game after game. I'm feeling good as well, in my body and in my mind which is the most pleasing thing for me. After five or six games, I felt better within myself, now I just feel like I can carry on going."
Barely missing a beat since putting pen to paper though, O'Riley has played 22 times, scored three goals and provided two assists in his attacking midfield berth.
Chances have fallen his way recently, but after seeing two brilliantly saved at Ipswich earlier this month, and a fantastic effort hit the bar against Portsmouth, it has ben nine games since O'Riley found the back of the net. Of those nine games though, Dons have won six of them, with midfield playing partner Scott Fraser rediscovering his scoring boots too with five in those games.
"Of course I'd like to contribute with a few more goals but I think they'll come," O'Riley continued. "As long as we're winning, that's the most important thing. In the last few games, I haven't scored but we've been winning really well so I can't complain too much.
"It's nice to be able to play alongside someone like Scott. We've got some really good attacking players here. With Cammy injured, to be able to have goals from all over the pitch is really important especially how we play. Ethan Laird and Matty Sorinola are always in the opponents' box as well, so in terms of goals, it's important everyone chips in."