AFC Bournemouth will be looking to hit the ground running when they host MK Dons in the first round of the Carabao Cup on Saturday (3pm kick-off).
Scott Parker will take the reins for his first competitive match since being appointed head coach as the Cherries bid to overcome the League One outfit at Vitality Stadium.
Unfortunately, there will be no live stream of the game on afcb.co.uk due to competition regulations.
The Dons, who finished 13th in the third flight last season, could field a number of new signings against the Cherries, including striker Mo Eisa.
Eisa, formerly on the books at Cheltenham Town and Bristol City, penned a long-term contract at Stadium MK after joining from Peterborough United for an undisclosed fee.
The Dons have also brought in ex-Swindon Town midfielder Scott Twine who netted twice in their first pre-season friendly, a 3-1 win over National League King’s Lynn Town.
Fellow new recruit Max Watters, who is on loan from Cardiff City, also scored against King’s Lynn before bagging a double in a 7-1 victory over Championship outfit Coventry City.
Dons, who are managed by Russell Martin (pictured above), won 3-1 against Maidenhead United and lost by the same scoreline against Bristol City before concluding their warm-up games against Tottenham at Stadium MK on Wednesday.
A strong Spurs team triumphed 3-1 thanks to goals from Heung-Min Son, former Dons player Dele Alli and Lucas Moura, while John Freeman replied for the hosts.
Following the game, Tottenham striker Troy Parrott became Dons' ninth summer signing when he joined them on a season-long loan.
Ahead of the clash, afcb.co.uk caught up with Toby Lock who covers the fortunes of the Dons in his capacity as sports editor for the MK Citizen.
MK DONS IN PROFILE
Ground: Stadium MK
Head coach: Russell Martin (appointed November 2019)
Club captain: Dean Lewington
Last season’s finishing position: 13th in League One
Leading goalscorer 2020/21: Cameron Jerome (15 in all competitions)
First league game: Bolton Wanderers (a)
afcb.co.uk: How has pre-season gone for the Dons?
TL: It’s been pretty good and I think Russell Martin will be happy with how everything has gone. The new signings seem to have bedded in pretty well and it’s all looking positive.
I think the biggest concern was how they would replace the players who have left but the new signings have looked pretty handy so far.
afcb.co.uk: Tell us about those new signings?
TL: I think Scott Twine will be the key man. He is replacing Scott Fraser who went to Ipswich in the summer and played a massive role in that number 10 spot behind the centre-forward.
Twine put in a lot of big numbers last season for Swindon and Newport so I think that’s a big signing.
Mo Eisa (pictured above) coming in for a club record should be good and it will be good to have a goalscorer on the books.
There are a few loanees. Ethan Robson from Blackpool looks pretty handy and Josh Martin from Norwich looks like he wants to make a name for himself in first-team football.
They have also brought in Max Watters (pictured below) from Cardiff so they have a decent supply of players who look like they can add to the depth of the squad.
Troy Parrott from Tottenham is another excellent loan signing.
afcb.co.uk: What’s a realistic prediction for the season?
TL: Given the way they finished last season, I think they can certainly be looking at the top ten.
In the second half of last season, they were third in the form charts from February onwards.
There are an awful lot of big-hitters in League One this season which will make life difficult for a number of other teams.
But if Dons could fly under the radar, they could slip into the top ten and maybe stay in the play-off hunt for long parts. I think that would represent a good season.
afcb.co.uk: Give us a word on Dean Lewington (pictured above)?
TL: He’s evergreen and he keeps going. Anybody at Bournemouth back in the League One days will remember him and probably thought he had been at the club a long time then!
To see him all these years later still playing and a regular in the first team is remarkable for him. And he doesn’t show any signs of slowing down either.
He signed another year’s contract in the summer so he sticking around for at least another 12 months and that place is his to lose. He was player of the year last season and it was fully warranted as well.
afcb.co.uk: Russell Martin has suggested Andrew Surman (pictured above) may retire – how did he do last season?
TL: What a player!
Dropping down to League One, you could appreciate it might look like he just wanted to take his foot off the gas and take a pay cheque.
But you could tell straightaway he was a classy player and he could read the game so brilliantly well. What he lacked in pace, he could make up for in being able to read the game.
Dons have a young player called David Kasumu who is next in line to the throne and they have high hopes for him.
For someone like him to watch Surs every week and see a player of that class and quality was fantastic for him.
He will be a great loss because having that experience in the dressing room, you can’t make up for it.
It’s a shame if he is hanging up his boots because I know they would love to have kept him for another year. If he does retire, he’s had an outstanding playing career.
afcb.co.uk: Who do you think will be Dons’ one to watch this season?
TL: Scott Twine (pictured above).
The way they play, they like to have a creative spark on the ball. From what I’ve seen of him during pre-season, he looks lively.
He looks eager to take on players and has a few tricks up his sleeve so I think he will certainly be one who can get a spark out of Dons if they are struggling because he’s got goals and assists in him. I think that will be a key part of the pitch for them this season.
afcb.co.uk: Are any key players either suspended or injured against the Cherries?
TL: I think they’ve got a fairly clean bill of health. Warren O’Hora missed the end of last season after having a foot operation. He would ordinarily be one of their starting centre-backs so he may miss out.
But he has been eased back during pre-season. If anybody is out, it will probably be him but he may well be back to full fitness and ready to start.
afcb.co.uk: What’s your score prediction?
TL: I think it will be tough for Dons. Bournemouth can flex their Championship muscle and certainly won’t want to start the season with a defeat to a League One side.
I predict a 2-0 win to Bournemouth but I think Dons will certainly give a good account of themselves, leaving a lot of home fans thinking ‘cor, they gave us a decent test this afternoon’.
You can follow Toby on Twitter – @Citizen_Toby
Officials: Sam Purkiss (referee), Stuart Butler (assistant), Adam Ricketts (assistant), Steven Plane (fourth official).