'Three amigos' return after around-the-clock help from Dons' medical staff
Six months ago, talk of returns for Dylan Asonganyi, Alex Gilbey and Joe Walsh were a long way off. But in just the second game of the season, all three played in the 1-0 win over Bury.
At 17, Asonganyi became the first player born in this millennium to play in the MK Dons first team when he started against Bury. His knee injury saw him sidelined after an impressive run of form in the Dons academy, prompting rumours of a move to one of the Premier League's big boys.
He was soon joined in the treatment room though by Walsh and Gilbey after both had surgeries ruling them out of the first team for a considerable time. And the trio bonded, with Asonganyi calling Gilbey and Walsh 'his older brothers' as they encouraged each other through the dark-times.
Talk of returning to the first team by the start of the new campaign was nothing more than a pipe-dream, especially for Gilbey who had been pencilled in for a December return after his knee surgery. But surprising everyone, Gilbey started at Oldham and played his first full 90 minutes against Bury.
Paul Tisdale admitted he was stunned to have Gilbey back in contention so quickly, and praised Simon Crampton and the medical staff for their dedication and efforts over the course of the summer in bringing the trio back to action so soon.
"It has been a really difficult time for them," said Tisdale. "Simon said he had never known a time like it. Things will settle down - the mind leads the body and when things are unsettled, these things can crop up.
"If you saw Alex Gilbey, you'd think he was playing a full 90 minutes for a long time. I've got to praise him too, and to Joe Walsh too. We're nowhere near full strength and if we can pick up results along the way, it will give us a real opportunity this year."
Walsh, like Gilbey, managed to play for the full 90 minutes against Bury - his first since January - and he thanked the medical staff for their work in getting the three of them back on the pitch.
He said: "They have been brilliant for us. They've pushed us for the last six months, we've had some long days. I was coming in at 7 in the morning and leaving at 7 at night. It was all worth it in the end to have us all starting together.
"Everything is feeling good. I've been eased back in in pre-season and they were right to do that. I felt good. I'll be icing everything later - I'm shattered, but it was worth it for the win!
"I was excited to come back and play and that's what got me through in the end. I wasn't too tired, the adrenaline got me through the game! It was a long road to recovery after six months of injury, so it's great to be back."