AFC Wimbledon’s summer loan signing Angus MacDonald is hoping to form an unbeatable central defensive partnership with Pim Balkestein.
The season curtain raiser is on Tuesday at Stevenage Borough in the first round of the Capital One Cup, and the Dons hosted their last pre-season friendly against Portsmouth last night.
Balkestein signed from Brentford, having spent time with the Dons last season on loan, while 19-year-old MacDonald arrived from Reading.
MacDonald said: “I am hoping that Pim and I are given the nod, although I want to be the main man back there and I don’t mind who plays alongside me.
“But we have bonded well and work together well. We’ve just got to try hard in training and see who the manager picks.”
However, Dons’ assistant manager Stuart Cash described the defensive showing in a 4-2 reverse against a West Ham XI last Saturday as unacceptable, and MacDonald and his team-mates are working hard to put things right.
MacDonald said: “After the West Ham game we’ve talked a lot about defending as a team.
“When you concede four goals everyone points the finger at the back four, but it is not like that.
“If you let a goal in the whole team is to blame. You have to defend from the front and if the whole team doesn’t want to let a goal in then you’re more than likely not to do so.”
The defeat to West Ham followed sharply on the heels of a 4-1 reverse against Preston North End, but rather than seeing the results as a knock to the team’s confidence, MacDonald relishes the big challenge.
He said: “Preston are probably among the favourites in League One so it was always going to be a tough game.
“But you need those tough games really because you’re not going to get that kind of test in League Two.
“You need to step up and play the better teams to be the top team in our league. I know I am firing on all cylinders now and raring to go.”
Dons’ first competitive match of the season takes midfielder Stacy Long back to former club Stevenage, but as yet he has not given his new team-mates the lowdown on his old side.
MacDonald said: “I am sure that nearer the time Stacy will give us some advice, which will be handy, but for the time being we are concentrating on the Portsmouth game and then we’ll deal with Stevenage.”
Dons manager Terry Brown believes youngster MacDonald has a bright future ahead of him, be it at Kingsmeadow or elsewhere.
He said: “Angus is a very strong and athletic lad who has a great strike with both feet, which is unusual for a centre-half. He has a little bit of maturing to do in physical terms, but he is a young man who will grow into an even bigger and stronger player.
“We brought him in because we needed some competition for Pim and Mat Michel-King, or cover should either pick up an injury. This is a great opportunity for Angus to play league football and he will play league football, we have not brought him in to just sit on the bench.”
After the heavy defeats to West Ham and Preston, Brown saw last night’s Portsmouth clash as an important guide as to where the team is before the season starts.
He said: “It is a vital game going into the start of the season. I want a clean sheet and for us to be more solid at the back.”