Picking a starting line-up will be tough for Martin

A squad reshuffle has given the Dons boss food for thought with a little over a week to go before their first game

By Toby Lock
Friday, 23rd July 2021, 12:31 pm
Updated Friday, 23rd July 2021, 12:32 pm
Russell Martin
Russell Martin

Picking a starting line-up for the opening day of the season is going to be harder than expected for Russell Martin

Having reshuffled his pack again during the transfer window, only three players who played in the opening game of the season last year - the 1-0 defeat to Coventry City in the Carabao Cup - remain at the club 12 months later.

With Martin still getting to grips with his new players and the fresh look to his squad, he admitted there are still spots open in his starting line-up for the trip to the Vitality Stadium to take on Championship side Bournemouth in the Carabao Cup, and that the team will be constantly evolving.

"It will be hard to pick a starting line-up for every game," he said. "But that's what you want. There have been a few of them who have surprised us with how quickly they've taken on information, how quickly they've settled in, how good they've looked so far. I think the speed of the transition has been a positive surprise.

"It will be really tough for me, but we'll get to a conclusion and send out a team we're all happy with. We used two different teams (in the 7-1 win over Coventry this week) and everyone fitted in, everyone had paid attention to what we'd been working on."

Seven signings, countless more releases and the sale of Scott Fraser too sees a new-look Dons head into the new campaign next Saturday against Championship side Bournemouth.

Lewington, one of the three players remaining players to have played in the season opener last season alongside David Kasumu and John Freeman, said the squad feels completely different again but feels positive heading into the new campaign.

He said: "I think there's only me and Laurie left! It has a different feel to it now. There are a lot of 21, 22-year-olds so there is a youthful feel to it. It has definitely been a big turnaround.

"The new lads have come in and bought into it and understand what we do. And they're intelligent players too, so when they're on the pitch they pick it up quickly and have settled into games reasonably well."