Two weeks to make or break MK Dons' season
While the rollercoaster of the FA Cup stole much of the attention last weekend, the importance of the next two weeks mean MK Dons cannot afford to take their eye off the ball for a moment.
On the field, Dons face rivals AFC Wimbledon and Northampton Town - derbies in any situation. But add to the mix a relegation scrap, and their importance mounts.
Robbie Neilson is well aware of the significance of the match against AFC. Having played them three times during his tenure at Stadium MK, Neilson has come out on top twice, including his first match in charge, and then this season at the Cherry Red Records Stadium.
Describing the match as ‘the most important of the season’ on Saturday, a win for Dons would see them move five clear of the Londoners, while defeat would see their rivals leap them in the table.
A week later, Dons travel to Sixfields to play Northampton, also mired in the drop zone but just three points adrift of Dons after beating Southend on Saturday.
Though a welcome distraction came when beating QPR in the FA Cup on Saturday, defeat in either league game will heap pressure back on boss Neilson, while victory in both would likely see them well away from the bottom four.
But their off-the-field exploits will also be under the microscope as the wheeling and dealing of the transfer window continues to whir. Neilson added Chelsea starlet Ike Ugbo to his ranks last week, while bringing in a bit of cash for forgotten man Paul Downing, who made his loan deal to Blackburn Rovers permanent on Monday.
The boss is keen to bring in a winger to bolster the numbers, but is willing to wait and see what happens and what becomes available this month before drawing a line under his squad for the remainder of the campaign, bunkering down to concentrate on escaping the relegation scrap they find themselves in.
And additions are vital to reverse the rot his side have endured in the last two months - winning just two league games in 15.
But a poor transfer window in terms of additions, twinned with negative results against AFC and Northampton would almost certainly spell disaster for the season as a whole, not to mention what it may do to Neilson’s position at the club.