The Scott Fraser dilemma is one all too familiar to MK Dons
After news broke yesterday of a bid for Scott Fraser's services, we look at the impression he has made at Stadium MK
The admission that MK Dons are at the negotiation table for Scott Fraser is a sign they are willing to do business for the Scot - but are they prepared for life without him?
Fraser arrived perhaps as a bit of a surprise last September. Touted for a Championship move, instead he opted for a team in League One which had just finished 19th. He came in when Dons needed attacking threats the most. Gone were the likes of Conor McGrandles, Alex Gilbey and Rhys Healey - sources of goals and assists from the previous regime. And after a few substitute appearances, he hit his stride. He was seen as the replacement for the attributes lost in those players. From replacement though, he would become the main man,
Even early in his Dons career, he spoke about how he had no desire to be in the relegation scrap in the third tier, making no bones about his want to play at a higher level. His forthright interview in the dugouts at Portsmouth following a disappointing loss were evident of a man who demanded more from everyone around him. As he and the club settled into their groove, they were able to climb the table last season, not looking down but up and what might be.
Deadly from the spot, Fraser hit 14 goals in 50 appearances for the club, 11 of those though came from 12 yards with just three coming in open play. Those three though would be pretty vital still, including the equaliser against AFC Wimbledon and the only goal at The Valley in the 1-0 win over Charlton. Good on the ball, happy to take players on, Fraser gave Dons an edge they hadn't had for many years, arguably since the departure of Dele Alli in 2015.
Cracks began to appear in Fraser's relationship with manager Russell Martin when an angry outburst on the pitch prompted the boss to substitute him 29 minutes into the win over Doncaster Rovers in March. Left out of the starting XI for the next game against Crewe, his punishment was served. Martin insisted the incident was water under the bridge, but Fraser still had to pay the toll. The incident had no further bearing though, with Fraser seeing out the remainder of the season, scoring three of Dons nine goals thereafter.
His contribution last season cannot be understated. He finished as the club's second leading scorer behind Cameron Jerome, created six goals and was often the source of inspiration when Dons struggled to get things going. But like Gilbey and Healey before him, players can be replaced.
Should Dons get a decent fee for the Scot, it'll be another show of good business from the club - turning around a free agent into a healthy six-figure sum in less than a year. Naturally there will be trepidation with selling a key player such as Fraser given how much of a key role he played last term.
But based on statistics alone though, they may have already found his replacement in the acquisition of Scott Twine - another free transfer, this time from Swindon, who nigh-on matched Fraser's numbers last season and scored twice in his first pre-season outing for the club last night at King's Lynn.
Inevitable disappointment though there would be should a deal be finalised for Fraser, especially given how most of his performances were played without a Dons fan there to watch him in person, Martin's recruitment strategy policy so far has come up with some pretty good replacements thus far. After all, Fraser was a replacement this time last year.