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Oxford United boss Wilder is playing it safe
The U’s will be without a quartet of key senior players – Michael Duberry, Peter Leven, Andy Whing and Liam Davis – when the season starts next Tuesday.
Wilder can ill-afford any further problems ahead of the Capital One Cup tie against Bournemouth, with the squad stretched further by Simon Heslop (back) and Harry Worley (ankle) also receiving treatment.
The rest of the squad will travel, but the U’s boss is reluctant to take any unnecessary risks, so will field a weaker team against Mike Ford’s Blue Square Bet South side.
He said: “It’s a difficult one for us because we have our team (for Bournemouth) in mind, but we still want to take a team to Oxford City because they’ve helped us out. “We’ll try to get a few first-team players in there and hopefully get people through that game.
“The back end of pre-season always tails off a little bit because everyone has one eye on the first game of the season and we’re no different.” It means the U’s are likely to start with a similar line-up to Tuesday’s 2-0 defeat at Eastleigh, when Ryan Clarke, Adam Chapman, Tom Craddock and Jon-Paul Pittman all played 90 minutes.
Although it means the remainder of the first-team is wrapped up in cotton wool, most have accumulated enough game time in pre-season to be match fit.
“They’ve had enough football,” Wilder said. “It’s the other stuff we have to tighten up a little bit – maybe organisation on certain aspects like set-pieces, the tiny bits. “We’re there, the players have played well in pre-season, I’m happy with the shape of the team.”
Ford, whose players start their Blue Square Bet North campaign at home to Chester next Saturday, August 18, is expected to name a strong side featuring new signing and former United frontman Jamie Cook.
Ford added: “I want the players to go out and enjoy it.”
For live updates from the game, log on to www.oxfordmail.co.uk/sport from 7pm or visit @oxfordmailoufc on Twitter.