Former Bolton Wanderers and Portsmouth midfielder Gary O’Neil is training with League One rivals MK Dons and is set to feature in today’s Central League clash with Peterborough United.
MK Dons tweeted the news this morning and included a comment from manager Paul Tisdale which seemed to imply the arrangement was purely for the mutual benefit of both parties with no mention made of O’Neil being a potential signing for MK.
Midfielder Gary O’Neil is training with #MKDons and will feature in today’s Central League clash with Peterborough United.
Paul Tisdale: “Gary has been training with us while he searches for a new club. He can help us out in terms of numbers for games like this.”
— MK Dons (@MKDonsFC) October 8, 2019
The thirty-six-year-old is a free agent after he left Bolton while the club was in the midst of financial meltdown at the end of the season. He made twenty-nine Championship appearances for the Trotters in 2018/19 and ended the campaign by winning the club’s Player of the Season award. He recently tweeted his frustration at not being able to find a club.
As another Saturday approaches. I’m not gonna lie…. I miss chasing a football about ⚽️❤️ #football
— Gary O'Neil (@Gazoneil) October 4, 2019
The tweet prompted a reaction from Bolton fans hoping for a return to Lancashire for their former favourite and also saw Portsmouth fans suggesting a homecoming for the experienced campaigner.
O’Neil is highly regarded at Fratton Park after one hundred and ninety-two outings for Pompey across all competitions between 1999 and 2007. He left the South Coast for Middlesborough in a deal worth £5 million and went on to feature for West Ham, QPR, Norwich and Bristol City before arriving at the University of Bolton Stadium.
O’Neil showed last season that despite his age there is still plenty left in the tank.
We find it amazing such a talented and experienced pro is yet to find a club, and it will be interesting to see how this one pans out.
He could still do a job in League One and would bring leadership to a dressing room.
MK Dons fans might feel if Tisdale is looking at free-agents he should be looking at a striker with goals hard to come by in their first season back at League One following last season’s promotion.
However, we feel taking a punt on the former Premier League star might be just what they need.