Zak Jules is finally showing signs of turning himself into the rough diamond Dons first-hoped


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Zak Jules looks completely transformed from the player that who turned out for the Dons last season, seeing his form slump so drastically he ended up on loan at Fleetwood to just try and get minutes.

Since his return he has performed admirably, and you could very easily make a case for his name being one of the first names on the team sheet.

Having arrived from Walsall during the COVID-19 season he was played at left wing-back and to say he flattered to deceive is an understatement.

It became apparent rather quickly that he was not a player built for that position, not too dissimilar from Dan Burn, although he is more of an exception to the rule.

As a change of position resulted, seeing the Scotsman utilised as a more familiar centre back, and he was given a run of games courtesy of injuries to others alongside suspensions.

Playing twenty matches and failing to leave a positive impression in any saw supporters wondering who their side really recruited.

Given the fact that he was a January arrival and joining a struggling side who were just beginning to show promising signs, he was cut a little slack, with the hope that a full pre-season with the Buckinghamshire outfit will help improve his fortunes.

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After just seven displays in the first five months of the campaign, it was obvious that it was not clicking and ultimately the 25-year-old found himself transferred on loan to Fleetwood Town.

Themselves relegation-threatened, it was a rather successful loaning as both parties got what they wanted out of it; Fleetwood saw the Jules who had been performing well at Walsall two years prior, and the Dons saw more minutes, playing 20 matches out of a possible 22.

Written off by most supporters and many expecting to see his name appear in the departures list, he found himself given a chance during this new campaign following the disastrous start made by summer signing Jack Tucker.

Partnering Dean Lewington and Warren O’Hora in a back three, Jules has not looked back. He has oozed confidence and performed to a much higher, much improved level.

Looking assured in the left-sided centre back position, allowing him to know he has cover behind him from Lewington should any error occur.

Despite being by trade a centre-back, Jules has a natural footballing ability looking assured in a Dons shirt with the ball at his feet, which he has demonstrated on occasion, marauding forward on lung-bursting runs knowing he has Bradley Johnson and Josh McEachran in front of him, both who are more than capable of dropping back to fill the vacancy when required.

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Whilst he may not have had his greatest game in the recent 1-3 defeat at home to Promotion-pushing Derby County, he has in previous weeks put in stellar displays, most notably against his former-employer Walsall in the Papa John’s Trophy, against Wycombe Wanderers and Cheltenham Town, both in League action.

This has given Jules more of an opportunity to showcase his talents and the powerful defender has certainly taken full advantage.

Whilst this may have taken Milton Keynes eighteen months to discover, it shows something that rarely happens in modern-day football; patience.

What is to come? We do not know. However, should this be the start of an upwards curve in his Dons career there is room for optimism from all, as there are three prime examples he can look at and follow; Matt O’Riley, Harry Darling and Scott Twine.

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Darling and O’Riley both arrived at Stadium MK in the same transfer window as Jules and were afforded the opportunity to bed into the side before earning money-spinning transfers to Swansea City and Celtic respectively, with the latter recently showcasing his skillset in the Champions League at the Santiago Bernabeau against Real Madrid.

Scott Twine signed in the summer window that followed and his stellar performances at Milton Keynes saw him signing for Burnley for £5,000,000.

The opportunity for growth is there and the chances to finally break into the higher of echelons of the football pyramid seem one small step closer. Whether the Scot can actually do so is now only on him.

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Covering Milton Keynes Dons football, Northants Steelbacks Cricket and the England International side also.

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