Exclusive – MK Dons Set Sights On First Summer Signing

MK Dons would like to bring midfielder Jack Payne to the club on a permanent basis following his release by Charlton Athletic, The Real EFL understands.

The 29-year-old headed to Buckinghamshire on a season-long loan last summer after falling out of favour at the Addicks in the early stages of the campaign. He started three of the first four games under Dean Holden. However, following the 44-year-old’s dismissal, he was allowed to leave The Valley.

His sudden availability late in the transfer window alerted a number of clubs. He eventually ended up at MK Dons, where he enjoyed a regular starting berth under both Graham Alexander and Mike Williamson.

The former Lincoln City and Swindon Town man played a key role in helping his new club surge up the League Two table. Following relegation from League One last season, they started life in the fourth tier slowly. Nine games without a win throughout September and October saw the Dons slip to as low as 18th. Williamson’s arrival kickstarted the resurgence though and they were soon competing in the upper reaches of the table.

Although they challenged for automatic promotion, they fell short at the final hurdle as Stockport County, Wrexham and Mansfield Town secured a place in League One. MK Dons had to settle for a place in the play-offs, where they entered as favourites against seventh-placed Crawley Town. It wasn’t to be though, as they suffered a complete capitulation and exited the semi-final by a record-breaking aggregate score of 8-1.

Williamson will now regroup as he targets promotion next season, with Payne high on the agenda. The versatile playmaker finished the campaign with six goals and six assists from 40 league appearances and is a free agent after being released by Charlton. His temporary club are keen to bring him in on a permanent basis, with more clubs expected to enter the fray.

He is a player who brings a winning mentality, having achieved promotion in every tier of the EFL. He first helped guide Southend United to League One in 2015 before playing a role in Huddersfield Town‘s march to the Premier League two years later. In 2018, he saw similar success at Blackburn Rovers as they returned to the Championship at the first time of asking after joining the club on loan during the winter transfer window.

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