Dickov on visit to MK Dons
Paul Dickov has admitted Latics could not have a much more difficult opening to their npower League One campaign than a visit to Milton Keynes Dons on Saturday.
Latics’ manager believes their opponents are rightly one of the favourites for promotion.
Dickov said: "It is a tough start and I think they will go up automatically this season having nearly got there for the last couple of years.
"I have watched them three times pre-season and Karl Robinson has put together a really good team, but I believe we can win there.
"I saw then at Cheltenham last Saturday and they kept the ball really well and they also have some very good footballers and a lot of quality in their side.”
Dickov described last season’s 5-0 defeat at stadium: mk as possibly the low point of the campaign.
He added that result is irrelevant saying Latics have a new group of players. And to underline this he pointed out that the team which kicked off against Sheffield Wednesday on Monday contained only three players who appeared in the league game against them on Easter Monday.
He said: "We have a better group of players. It might take a little time to gel together, but for the majority of the game against Sheffield Wednesday it bodes well,” he said.
MK Dons, who made last season’s play offs after finishing fifth, have added three vastly experienced players to their squad – defender Jon Otsemobor and striker Ryan Lowe, both from Sheffield Wednesday, and Alan Smith on a free transfer from Newcastle.
Dickov is pleased how his squad is taking shape saying he is happy with his starting line up, but he would like more strength, especially on the left.
He added that realistically he can hope to bring in no more than one or two more players also pointing out that the youngsters will be needed more than ever this season.
"With the size of the squad, there are going to be injuries and suspensions and we will need them to come in and step up to the plate,” he added.
Dickov added there were positives to take from Monday’s Capital One Cup defeat at home to Sheffield Wednesday when they were 2-0 ahead at the break only to concede four goals in the second period.
He says the only saving grace is that Latics won’t come up against wingers of the calibre of Michail Antonio and Jermaine Johnson in League One.
Dickov believes he has assembled a squad capable of mounting a promotion challenge – but a modicum of luck is needed.
He points to the fact that in his first season the team was flying only for their promotion assault to be derailed by five players contracting mumps.
Likewise, last season they were riding high in the table only to be hit by injuries with up to eight probably starters ruled out at one stage.
"I don’t want to sound as if I am making excuses, but it is fact,” he said adding an enormous positive is that no players have been injured pre season.
Dickov says the players deserve credit for reporting back for pre-season training in good shape as they had each been given a fitness programme to undertake during the break.
Latics’ manager added that this meant the early part of pre-season was not spent exclusively to getting the players fit again.