Released and Re-signed? – Centre-back Edition:

By Luke Payne, Feature Writer

MK Dons are in a good position on the centre-back front with Warren O’Hora, Jack Tucker, Dean Lewington, and Zak Jules all under contract. However, if Graham Alexander wants to operate with a back three, there would be very little cover. There’s also the possibility that other clubs swoop in for O’Hora and Tucker, which would leave Dons with two left-sided centre-backs. This list will try and cover all eventualities, so there will be suggestions here that may only happen if Dons lose some of their key assets. Here are seven out of contract centre-backs. The Dons could look at signing:

1) Curtis Davies
One of the major problems with the Dons squad last season was a lack of leadership, especially when Dean Lewington and Warren O’Hora picked up injuries. Curtis Davies would be an instant solution to this problem. The Derby club captain was released after making 22 league appearances in the 2022/23 season.

Despite being 38, he still offers a lot of quality, and it says a lot that he was playing championship football well into his thirties. Davies even spent a number of years in the Premier League with the likes of Aston Villa, Birmingham, and Hull. Interestingly, in 2000, he spent a season at Wimbledon FC as one of the youth players before getting released and spending the rest of his youth career with Luton. He could easily call time on his career soon, but it might be possible to get one more season out of him.

2) Clark Robertson
If the Derby captain is unattainable, then perhaps the Portsmouth captain would be a bit more realistic. Clark Robertson only played 22 league games for Pompey, prompting the League One side to release him at the end of the season. Robertson has previous League Two playoff success with Blackpool back in 2016/17 and also played a couple of seasons in the championship with Rotherham.

Now, at 29, he may decide he wants more honours to his name so a drop to League Two could be on the cards if he doesn’t take a bottom half League One offer.

3) Richard Keogh
This next suggestion won’t sit right with some Dons fans. Keogh played for The Dons back in 2020, picking up 18 league appearances before leaving in January 2021 to sign for Huddersfield. Keogh was quickly forgotten about due to the impressive form of his replacement, a player by the name of Harry Darling. However, now the club has fallen to League Two, and Keogh would be an impressive signing.

Aged 36, Keogh has enjoyed a successful career, playing for the likes of Derby, Coventry, and Blackpool, amongst others. He barely featured for Ipswich in their recent promotion campaign, managing just 9 league appearances. As a result, the former Republic of Ireland international has been released, so a move back to Milton Keynes could appeal to him.

4) Lloyd Jones
Lloyd Jones would be quite the signing given the fact that he’s Cambridge’s player of the year. He made 36 appearances in League One, contributing 4 goals in the process. There’s a good chance he’s looking for a better League One move, but if nothing comes to fruition, then The Dons should certainly take a look at him.

Relocation to Milton Keynes would be quite easy for Jones, with his other most recent clubs being Northampton and Luton. Signing the 27 year old would be a statement of intent, and he would provide healthy competition at the back, especially if Graham Alexander decides to play four at the back.

5) Jordan Willis
Repeat readers may remember that Jordan Willis would’ve been my preferred solution to the centre-back crisis last season when Dons only had Jack Tucker and Zak Jules available for selection. Unfortunately, he was snapped up by Wycombe in February, and Willis went on to make 9 league appearances, most of which came from the bench.

Now Wycombe have released him, and the 28 year old may drop into League Two in search of first team football. Willis is a proven League One quality centre-back, playing for Coventry and Sunderland, winning trophies with both. He also has leadership qualities, having captained Coventry for a number of years. If Dons could get him back to his best, they would have one of the best centre-backs in the division.

6) Ryan Inniss
Ryan Inniss would likely be the easiest player to sign on this list, but that’s because he’s a higher risk option. He was released from Charlton, having made 36 league appearances. Inniss is a very physical player standing at 6ft 6. However, his playstyle can get him into trouble, and he was sent off 4 times for Charlton, including 2 straight red cards. He was also the player that got a second yellow when Dons won away at Charlton 2-0 back in October.

Inniss has spent much of his career jumping between League One and League Two for clubs such as Newport, Colchester, Southend, and Port Vale. It’s unlikely that he would play ahead of Warren O’Hora or Dean Lewington, but at 27, he brings plenty of football league experience.

7) Priestley Farquharson
The final player on this list is the wildcard of the article. Priestley Farquharson has been in impressive form for Newport, playing 31 league games whilst contributing 4 goals and 4 assists. He’s now out of contract, and Newport have offered him a new deal, but there will be plenty of other offers for the 26 year old to look at.

The Welsh club are Farquharson’s only football league club so far, having played in non-league as well as the Cymru Premier before he signed for Newport in 2021. He would provide good competition for the likes of Warren O’Hora and Jack Tucker on the right side of defence, but Dons wouldn’t be the only club interested.

Special Mentions and the Verdict:
These are just seven options among many, and there are countless players The Dons could look at based on the roles in the squad that need filling. There are marquee signings such as Taylor Moore and Ben Heneghan that are also available as well as decent squad players like former Don Joe Walsh and Charlie Raglan.

The ideal signing would be either Clark Robertson or Lloyd Jones, but this would cause incredibly fierce competition for starting places if Graham Alexander decides to play four at the back. Jordan Willis would be the best option in terms of fitting into the squad without upsetting the balance. He would also provide that winning attitude that’s been missing from the squad for a long time now.

Thank you for reading the centre-back edition of released and re-signed. Let us know which centre-back/s you would like to see The Dons sign. Next time, we move on to the midfielders, so look out for that, and I hope you enjoyed the read!

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