Payne’s Player Rankings 2022/23 (Part 2)

By Luke Payne, Lead Feature Writer

You’ve read the first part. It was so good so you’re back for more. In part two of his season review of player performance, impact, development/growth Luke takes us from 22 down to number 11

22) Will Grigg
Another big name summer signing came in the form of fan favourite Will Grigg. This season has been a total contrast to the Will Grigg Dons fans are used to, with the man on fire not living up to his chant at all. He’s been used regularly as a back-up for Mo Eisa but hasn’t come close to making the starting spot his own.

21) Brooklyn Ilunga
Similarly to Gyamfi and Tripp, Ilunga’s first team chances all came in cup competitions. However, Ilunga would spend the majority of the season out on loan, spending the first half of the season with National League South side Hemel Hempstead Town before making the switch to Wealdstone of the National League in January. He was in impressive form at Wealdstone but unfortunately picked up an injury towards the end of the season and was recalled by The Dons to help with his recovery.

20) Darragh Burns
The Irish prospect has been in and out of the squad all season but his chances have dried up in recent months. He’s not been the most consistent but then raw talent rarely is. The best show of his potential was in the League Cup game against Watford where he put in a man of the match performance, picking up a goal and an assist in a 2-0 victory.

19) Dan Kemp
Perhaps this is a controversial ranking due to his struggles making the first team at MK Dons for the first half of the season. Kemp was loaned out to League Two relegation side Hartlepool for the second half of the season and he gained plaudits for his excellent performances. He scored 9 goals in addition to 2 assists as he very nearly single-handedly guided Hartlepool away from the relegation zone. Unfortunately it wasn’t to be and The Pools will be playing National League football next season but it’s given Dons plenty of food for thought as Kemp returns to the squad.

18) Anthony Stewart
Stewart was brought in to solve the centre-back crisis with injuries to the likes of Dean Lewington and Warren O’Hora leaving Dons dangerously short-staffed at the back. As it turns out, Stewart didn’t really fix this problem as he was suspended for the first game due to a red card he got for his parent club Aberdeen. Before the second game, he got injured in training and wouldn’t be seen for weeks leaving The Dons with Jack Tucker and Zak Jules as the only available options. Eventually Stewart would return to the side and despite looking fairly solid defensively, he hasn’t managed a clean sheet in his stint at the club.

17) Henry Lawrence
Lawrence has acted as a rotation player for the entire season, popping up in the squad whenever a key defender gets injured only to return to the shadows when they recover. He’s been inconsistent but has provided some good moments, including a vital goal away at Derby that secured Dons another point for the relegation battle.

16) Bradley Johnson
The experienced midfielder came to the club with plenty of Championship appearances to his name. Despite his past successes, he’s had a poor season for The Dons. For the first half of the season he was either the player to win or lose the game with a touch of class or a silly mistake. This understandably frustrated Dons fans and he found himself struggling to maintain his place in the side. He did manage the team for one game after Liam Manning was sacked and Dean Lewington was unavailable to lead the team. Come January, Johnson would lose his place to Paris Maghoma and has been restricted to appearances from the bench since.

15) Nathan Holland
Holland had a season that can only be described as inconsistent. At times he was a starter, at other times he was a rotation player and a couple of injuries prevented him from getting an extended run in the team. He had some moments of quality where he was able to creative chances out of nothing but has also had some poor appearances that will be forgotten very quickly. With Jonathan Leko and Sulley Kaikai signing in January, Holland had to settle for bench appearances.

14) Zak Jules Looked to be out the door in the summer but stayed with the club and eventually found himself in the first team due to the endless injury problems at the back. He went through a good spell where a certain player ratings writer dubbed him ‘The Great Wall of Jules’ but this title wouldn’t last as Dons had a dip in form and Jules went straight back down the ranks. He made a few extra appearances playing wingback at the end of the season due to an injury to Daniel Harvie.

13) Dawson Devoy
The young Irish prospect had a busy season, breaking through into the first team following a few top performances against the likes of Watford. He went through a spell where he struggled with discipline on the pitch and gave away penalties cheaply, even getting sent off for a two-footed challenge against Shrewsbury. When Paris Maghoma signed, Devoy was restricted to appearances from the bench but he’s maintained a place in the squad ahead of the more experienced players like Bradley Johnson, Ethan Robson and Matt Smith.

12) Conor Grant
Awarded the young player of the year, Grant actually had a poor start in MK Dons colours. With his tendency to go missing in games his impact was limited, only really contributing in cup competitions against weaker opposition. However, he finally broke through into the first team in March and played a vital role in wins over The Dons’ relegation rivals.

11) Jonathan Leko
Leko was signed in January to add firepower up front. His dribbling skills got the attention of fans and he was quickly considered a good signing thanks to his flair. However, his end product was mostly disappointing with the exception of a fantastic strike against Sheffield Wednesday. He made it easier for Dons to advance up the pitch but his laziness when it comes to defending was a major concern. He rarely chased loose balls let alone dropped back to defend with the team.

That’s two parts done. In the final part Luke takes you through the top ten.

Are there any I’ve got outrageously wrong? Let us know what changes you would make on our social media. Hopefully I’ll be able to bring you more content across the summer but that concludes my end of season special so thank you for reading and I hope
you enjoyed!

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Payne's Player Rankings 2022/23 (Part 3)