Signings show another reboot of Martin's MK Dons vision

Ethan LairdEthan Laird
Ethan Laird
The latest version of MK Dons is stark contrast to the team which started the season

Four months does not sound like an especially long time, but given the way the world has changed in that time, it's little wonder it feels like a significantly different MK Dons team in that time too.

Kicking off the season in the EFL Cup against Coventry City on September 5, the team lining up for Russell Martin's side felt more like a weakened 2019/20 team than it did a fresh, new 2020/21 squad. Since then though, the squad has faced a significant overhaul.

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Andrew Fisher has taken over as the team's top stopper from Lee Nicholls, Baily Cargill, Callum Brittain, Carlton Morris and Sam Nombe have departed, Matthew Sorinola has established himself in the team as a regular rather than a youngster being offered a chance, Jordan Houghton has been out injured since November, and Dean Lewington... is still Dean Lewington.

The transformation of the team continued through September with the signing of Scott Fraser, Richard Keogh came back to fitness, Brittain and Nombe left the club and Cameron Jerome arrived in October, changing the dynamic of the squad further.

"I would’ve changed more in the summer but Covid didn’t help," said the Dons boss. "No-one here is afraid of change.

"I felt that we needed a change when I came in. We needed to decide what we were about, what we would stand for, our culture. Everyone has embraced it and a lot of people are excited about what we can achieve."

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Establishing a fairly stable core of first teamers, the January window has seen everything change again. Five more departures this month in the form of George Williams, Ste Walker, Morris, Cargill and Keogh, with the injection of youngsters Ethan Laird, Charlie Brown, Harry Darling and Matt O'Riley (all of them 21 or younger) have once again changed the feel of the Dons squad.

With Dons in relatively safe 15th spot in League One, six points away from the relegation zone and nine from the play-offs, Martin admitted the latest reboot of his team may face similar teething issues

Martin said: "It’s going to take some time to get into the rhythmn we want too. Matt O'Riley has been here a while, Harry Darling will need some work and we will probably do some work before the window ends. The way we play does take a lot of work to adapt with, I’m okay with that.

"With change comes a sticky period but we are on the right path, we have a real strategy in everything we do and how we want to build the club. Hopefully we are heading in the right direction and the new signings show that."

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