Big challenge but we'll be ready says Saunders
Dean Saunders says Reds will be ready for the challenge of facing what he regards are one of the best sides in SkyBet League One when we take on MK Dons on Saturday.
Although Karl Robinson’s men have suffered back to back defeats, they are undefeated in six away League games and are the division’s top scorers.
But Reds’ interim manager is confident his side can give a good account of themselves after what he describes as two “excellent” weeks of training since the 0-0 draw against Colchester kicked off the Saunders’ era on December 28.
“Considering the side we had out I consider that one of my best results in management,” said Dean.
“It was something to build on in terms of the fact that the work rate and the organisation was good, considering I only met the players on the morning of the game.
“Since then we’ve had some good days on the training pitch and we have been working hard on ways of making what we do better and stopping the opposition. It’s been really positive and, I have to say, the spirit among the boys is excellent. The dressing room is really positive and there is a strong collective belief that we can start climbing the table in the second half of the season.”
Reds lost 2-0 at Stadium MK in August and since then the visitors, who will have former Crawley boss Richie Barker on their bench and Kyle McFadzean in the heart of their defence, have gone from strength to strength.
“Karl is trying to get them to the next level and has put a good squad together,” said Dean. “They have threats but so do we and at home I want us to be competitive and play on the front foot.”
Although Dean Leacock, Ryan Dickson and Josh Simpson are out Dean will be able to call on fit-again Lanre Oyebanjo and Sonny Bradley while Darren Ward will make his debut after signing from Swindon until the end of the season.
“Darren’s a leader – a warrior – and he will be able to put my ideas across almost as a coach on the pitch for me,” added Dean. “He’s a great signing for us. He’s kept himself in fantastic shape even though he hasn’t played a lot of football this season and I have no problem at all throwing him into things on Saturday.”