MK Dons are no strangers to play-off heartache, but if they are to finally make the step up to the Championship this season, keeping hold of home-grown wonder-kid Dele Alli will prove vital.
Dons boss Karl Robinson has pre-emptively warned off potential suitors, insisting the 17-year-old would not be sold other than as part of a multi-million pound deal. The winger was watched by an array of scouts during the Dons 2-1 victory in the League Cup against local rivals Northampton Town earlier this month.
Although Alli has still only made eleven appearances for the senior side, comparisons are already being made with Dons’ most famous Academy product, Sam Baldock, who has gone on to play for West Ham and Bristol City.
The Dons remain unbeaten in League One this season after four games, although that run has included just one win against Crewe. Robinson’s men were once again reminded of Baldock’s talents, with the striker marking his homecoming with a brace in the Dons’ 2-2 draw with Bristol City.
Alli certainly has the potential to follow in Baldock’s shoes, possibly to an even greater extent having been linked with Arsenal during the summer transfer window. Throughout their short history, MK Dons have found themselves something of a feeder club for players and managers alike, but it will be vital for them to change this mentality in order to keep Alli. His youth would make him an unlikely starter if he were to make the move to the Premier League straight away, whereas if he were to get another couple of years’ experience under his belt at the stadium:mk, he would have the chance to mature both physically and mentally before making what would be a huge step up.
Even aside from Alli himself, the Dons need back-up going forward and currently sit tenth in League One. If they are to push for promotion, Alli could prove one of the Dons’ key players as they finally look to break out of their prolonged spell in League One.
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