MK Dons: Liam Manning talks Hiram Boateng's first league start in almost 21 months

    Image Credit: Milton Keynes Dons Football Club

    Hiram Boateng was a forgotten man at Milton Keynes Dons last season, but he has made a big impact after being given a new lease on life at the club.

    The midfielder joined the Dons ahead of the 2019/20 League One season with then-manager Paul Tisdale at the helm, having impressed during the previous few seasons with League Two club Exeter City.

    He was viewed as a significant signing for the club at the time, but only managed to make 20 league appearances - the last of which came in a 3-1 loss to Gillingham back on December 12th 2019.

    That equates to 639 days, or around 20 months and four weeks, since Boateng last started a league match for the Dons, finding himself out of favour with Tisdale's successor Russell Martin throughout the 2020/21 season - ultimately playing for Cambridge United on loan during their run to second place in League Two.

    Since Martin's departure, Dean Lewington and now Liam Manning have provided the 25-year-old with a new opportunity to contribute at Stadium MK, which has already seen him score twice and add a further assist this season.

    And after that 639-day wait, Boateng was rewarded with his first start under Manning's tenure and his head coach commented on his performance and work rate leading up to the 1-0 win over Portsmouth - a match in which Boateng came agonisingly close to scoring his third goal of the season with a strong effort that rocketed off the post in the first half.

    Speaking in his post-match press conference, Manning said: "Really pleased with H, I think before the game he's a really great example for everybody in the group and maybe people not in the team that come in, train right, good attitude."

    "Make sure you play your part. I think what we see with the starting line-up is just a small fraction of the preparation that goes into it, they can only be as good as the guys around them that support them and get them ready to go and do that."

    He continued: "He's done that, since we've been here in the last month he's trained well, attitude's been terrific. The moments he has come on, he's made an impact and he's had a really positive influence on games."

    "So, credit to him, he's earned that today. I thought what he showed today was slightly different in terms of putting in a real shift for the team."

    "I think that's really important to reinforce, the running he did, the defensive responsibility, his physicality. What he did for the team from that perspective I was really pleased with."

    He concluded: "He had a good chance as well, but hit the post. So, really pleased for him, credit must go to him for his attitude and getting himself back into the team and back into contention."

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