Robbie Neilson: MK Dons 'have Premier League potential', says new boss

Robbie Neilson
MK Dons are 19th in League One, with one win from their past nine league games

New MK Dons manager Robbie Neilson says the League One strugglers are capable of reaching the Premier League.

The 36-year-old joined from Hearts on Friday to replace Karl Robinson, who left the club in October.

"The facilities are here to take this team to the very top," Neilson told BBC Three Counties Radio.

"It's a club that has the potential to get there, 100%. As we all know the facilities are there, the chairman's there, so it's all coming together."

The Scotsman's first league game in charge will be at home to arch-rivals AFC Wimbledon on Saturday.

Neilson left a club sitting second in the Scottish Premier League to be appointed to the third-tier Dons, a move some had reservations about.

"It's a step up in the progression of my career - all Scottish managers want to manage in England," he added.

"You don't move from the top end of the SPL into the top league in England, it doesn't happen.

"Stevie [Crawford, new assistant manager] came down and he was astounded by the size of it and the infrastructure's that here.

"If people were to look at the club and do their homework on it, they'd realise this club has massive potential."

'I was throwing this season away'

Pete Winkelman
Winkelman says Robbie Neilson has not been set any targets

There were almost six weeks between Robinson's departure and the appointment of Neilson, but Dons chairman Pete Winkelman insists he has no regrets over the time he took to find a successor.

"I really don't understand the criticism that I've had with taking my time to be really honest," he said.

"The longer I took, the worse the opportunities were this season to do something about it, and that was the thing that was actually playing on my mind - the fact that I was throwing this season away - but would I have done that to get the right person, in my mind? Yes."

Winkelman says no decision has yet been made over the future of Richie Barker, who had been in temporary charge of the team, though he shares Neilson's lofty future ambitions.

"Do I need this club to be in the Premier League? Yes, because Milton Keynes needs it in the Premier League," Winkelman added.

"Absolutely, mark my words - this club one day, with or without me, is in the Premier League. That's the only way this story can finish."

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