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United given double boost
Deane Smalley and Adam Chapman have given Oxford United a fitness boost ahead of today’s npower League Two match at Bradford City.
The duo have resumed full training after groin and ankle problems respectively and will be in the U’s squad.
Neither are ready to start, but boss Chris Wilder may include them among the substitutes.
Peter Leven, Michael Duberry and Justin Richards are all available after sitting out the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy defeat to Southend United in midweek, while Lewis Montrose is in line to make his debut.
The match has been given added spice after Bradford’s sensational 3-1 midweek win over Aston Villa in the first leg of the Capital One Cup semi-finals.
And yesterday it emerged that Bantams boss Phil Parkinson was a potential target to take over at Championship side Blackpool, who are managerless.
Although United have lost their last two games to bow out of the FA Cup and Johnstone’s Paint Trophy, they are seven games unbeaten in the league – the division’s best run.
However, that will be tested by a tough fixture list which sees them play five games against top ten sides in the next three weeks.
But Wilder is undaunted by the prospect.
“I look at it on the flip side,”he said.
“They are teams with the same ambitions as us, whether it’s automatic promotion or the play-offs. “Within that, comes a nervousness and a situation where they’ve got to win games. “They can’t sit back and produce a defensive performance.
“We’re in the same situation, but I just feel there’s not a nervousness about us at all. “There’s a real positive vibe with us and we’re looking to continue.”
Parkinson could opt to freshen up his side after their midweek heroics, with lively winger Kyel Reid among his options.
Experienced striker Andy Gray is expected to be included in the squad after signing for a second spell this week.
Bradford yesterday signed Southampton defender Ryan Dickson, 26, on loan until the end of the season.
The U’s, who are 13th in the table, go into the game five points behind eighth-placed Bradford.
Bradford City: from Duke, Darby, McArdle, McHugh, Meredith, Atkinson, Doyle, G Jones, Reid, Hanson, Wells, Gray, Hines, Good, Connell, Hannah, R Jones, Ravenhill, McLaughlan, Dickson.
Oxford Utd: from Clarke, Batt, Duberry, Wright, O'Brien, Potter, Montrose, Leven, Rigg, Richards, Craddock, Marsh, Heslop, Davis, Capaldi, Worley, Raynes, Brown, Chapman, Smalley.