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Wilder challenges U's to prove a point
Chris Wilder has called on Oxford United to prove they are good enough to play at a higher level when the season kicks off against Bournemouth tonight.
The U’s begin their quest for promotion from npower League Two on Saturday, but they have an early opportunity to test their credentials when the Cherries, from League One, visit the Kassam Stadium for a Capital One Cup tie.
Wilder rates the visitors, who are tipped to be promotion contenders, highly, but sees the first-round game as a chance for his players to show they can deal with the challenge.
The United boss said: “It’s a great test. I’m confident all of our players can play at that level, it’s up to us now to go and produce and give ourselves an opportunity to do that.
“We think it’s a tough game, but on the other hand, they’ll be thinking that they’re coming to a team that’s going to be in and around the top end of League Two.
“The pressure will most probably be all on them to prog-ress.”
Victory would put United into tomorrow’s second-round draw, alongside all the Premier League sides not involved in European competition.
And Wilder also acknowledges causing an upset would be the perfect launchpad for the start of the League Two season this weekend.
“It would give everybody a real boost,” he said.
“It’s no guarantee if you get out of the traps that you’re going to have a fantastic season – Crewe showed that last year – so it’s always where you finish. But for sure, a positive start is on the agenda for every club and we’re no different.”
United are likely to name the same starting XI which began the 2-1 friendly defeat to Cardiff City earlier this month.
The one selection issue is expected to be in midfield, with Simon Heslop back to rival Adam Chapman after recovering from a sore back.
It would mean full competitive debuts for summer signings Michael Raynes, Lee Cox, Jake Forster-Caskey and Sean Rigg.
For all the build-up, team news and live updates from the Kassam Stadium log on to www.oxfordmail.co.uk from 7pm or visit @oxfordmailoufc on Twitter.
Oxford Utd: from Clarke, Batt, Raynes, Wright, Capaldi, Forster-Caskey, Cox, Chapman, Potter, Constable, Rigg, Brown, Evans, Heslop, Smalley, Pittman, Craddock.
Bournemouth: from Jalal, Cook, Barrett, Partington, Pugh, Arter, Thomas, Daniels, Gregory, MacDonald, Francis, Flahavan, Tubbs, Stockley, Strugnell, McDermott, Zubar, Grabban, Elphick, Addison.