Weaknesses made clear after pre-season defeat

KARL Robinson’s shopping list still reads ‘wingers and a right back’ as he looks to put the finishing touches to his squad for the new League 1 season.

The Dons’ boss was left to rue a host of missed chances as he watched his side go down 1-0 to League 2 Oxford United at the Kassam Stadium on Saturday.

And adding to Robinson’s defensive worries with the new campaign less than two weeks away, Mathias Doumbe left the stadium on crutches after falling awkwardly in the first half.

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Trialist right-back John Dunleavy did not do enough on the club’s pre-season trip to the Republic of Ireland to earn himself a full-time contract, although Jay O’Shea and Ian McLoughlin were both signed up on Friday to bolster the squad.

And Robinson wants to bring in more players after Tuesday night’s game with Tottenham Hotspur at stadium:mk, but declared that he needs to make sure any player he does bring in will be right for the club.

He said: “We’re still working hard in the transfer market and we are trying to fill those gaps. I’m still looking for wingers and a right back.

“I’m forever searching to make sure we fill the spaces before the season starts. We have to get the right players in and who understand the way we play.

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“We had a good chat with the other trialists and they understood, but will move on to other things.”

Asa Hall’s 18th minute close range strike was enough to hand the spoils to Oxford on Saturday, although both Dons and United could have had more on the day but for some questionable finishing in front of goal.

Sam Baldock, who was given a hero’s welcome by the travelling Dons fans, missed great chances in each half to pull his side level, as did Luke Chadwick and Stephen Gleeson, while Lewis Guy saw his effort cleared off the line.

And Oxford weren’t without their chances either as first Liam Boyce and then Tom Craddock were both guilty of missing sitters late on to put the result beyond any doubt.

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But while Dons’ 100 per cent record in pre-season games was lost against their toughest opponents so far this summer, Robinson remained philosophical and not too downbeat about this side’s performance.

“It’s always disappointing to lose,” he said. “But it’s pre-season. Let’s see what happens when the ball starts rolling on August 6.

“The important thing is that we create the chances to score, and we did that in abundance today. Sam (Baldock) had three, Chadwick had two guilt edged chances, Gleeson, Daniel Powell, Jabo’s (Ibehre) two headers in each half – we can’t go through games and miss those sorts of chances. The players know that and we need to improve in those areas.

“We created numerous chances, and on any other day we could have scored three or four. I’m very happy with the way we played for periods of time, but there were also parts of the game where we looked lethargic.”

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Shaun Williams started the game at centre back alongside Gary MacKenzie, with Doumbe starting at right back, before hobbling off injured midway through the first half.

And while Doumbe is expected to be the first choice to play alongside MacKenzie in the heart of the defence, Robinson is keen to experiment with different formations and systems before the season kicks-off against Hartlepool United in less than a fortnight.

He said: “We’re trying things out, and people understand that at the moment. We have players filling in with positions, but we looked good.”

Robinson is expected to continue testing different formations against Tottenham, and he will hope to recall David Martin and Dean Bowditch to the squad after both missed the trip to Oxford with slight niggles.

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One player who won’t be joining Dons is Austrian left-back Thomas Piermayr who is reported to have turned down an offer to move to stadium:mk, deciding to sign for Scottish Premier League outfit Inverness Caledonian Thistle instead.

The 21-year-old left LASK Linz at the start of the summer and had been on trial with Terry Butcher’s side, while also attracting interest from Dons.

And it may be a long shot, but Fulham have apparently signalled that they are willing to sell Keanu Marsh-Brown who enjoyed such a successful loan spell at stadium:mk last season.

He made 19 appearances for Dons, but is likely to attract attention from a number of Championship clubs.

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