Peterborough United manager Grant McCann has pledged to field a strong starting line-up in the Checkatrade Trophy tie with MK Dons at the ABAX Stadium tomorrow (October 4, 7.30pm).
Posh are obliged under competition rules to field at least five first-team players, but the signs are McCann will send out many more as he tries to find a winning formula. Posh haven’t won a competitive game since beating MK Dons 2-0 at stadium:mk in a League One fixture on August 27.
Posh need a win to have a chance of reaching the knockout stages after losing their opening tie 6-1 at home to Norwich City Under 23s. MK Dons beat Barnet on penalties in their opening game, following a 2-2 draw.
McCann fielded the likes of Adil Nabi, Ricardo Santos and Shaquile Coulthirst against Norwich, all of whom have fallen well out of first-team favour.
Posh will be without first-choice right-back Michael Smith who is away on international duty with Northern Ireland. Hayden White will step in.
McCann said: “I made a lot of changes for the Norwich game. We got beaten badly as a result so, if we want to progress in this competition, which we do, we have to beat MK Dons.
“We know what to expect tomorrow and that’s a good game of football, but we need to start winning again and this is a good time to start.
“We have four of our next five games at home and it’s about time we set out on a winning run in front of our own fans.
“I will pick a team to win the game and that will include Hayden White at right-back. Hayden has been asking me what he has to do to get in the side and now he has his chance.
“He was unlucky to be injured when Michael was last away, but now he has two good games in which to stake a claim for the shirt. If he plays well he will keep it.”
McCann could also give striker Tom Nichols a chance to break his scoring drought ahead of Saturday’s (October 8) League One home game with Bury in front of the live Sky TV cameras.
Not that the manager is blaming his main striker for a glut of recent missed chances even though the 23 year-old hasn’t scored for nine matches.
“We showed the players film of the game at Southend on Saturday (October 1),” McCann added. “We played okay until we reached the opposition penalty area and then we made some bad decisions.
“We need to improve that quickly and we should be able to as I have clever players at this club rather than ones who are a bit thick up top!
“I believe Chris Forrester and Leo Da Silva Lopes play very well together, but perhaps they can give us more of a goal threat. They have both moved forward to score goals this season and maybe they can do it more often.”
MK Dons manager Karl Robinson is a fierce critic of the Checkatrade Trophy and he will be leaving several senior players at home including goalkeeper David Martin and long-serving skipper Dean Lewington.
Robinson said: “It’s always nice to go to Peterborough and try and win, but I’m more concerned with Sunday (they host Port Vale in League One). I’m going to Peterborough to try something for Sunday. I don’t want to lie to the fans. Dean Lewington, Darren Potter and David Martin won’t even travel, Ryan Colclough and Nicky Maynard might not even be in the squad.
“This is a competition we’ve won, so it’s a part of our history. And we go through if we win tomorrow night too. But I’m only concentrating on Sunday.”
If the game is drawn after 90 minutes there will be a penalty shoot out to decide who gets an extra point. Barnet host Norwich in the group’s other tie tomorrow with two of the four teams eventually going through to the knockout stages.
Posh travel to Barnet in their final group game on November 8.
Advance tickets for tomorrow’s fixture are priced at £8 for adults/seniors/18-21s and £3 for under 18s. There is a £2 increase on the day of the game.