FOOTBALL: No rest for our players, says boss Ford

The Oxford Times: Oxford City winger Mark Bell has been urged to grab a regular spot in the side by boss Mike Ford as they look for a strong finish to the second half of the season Oxford City winger Mark Bell has been urged to grab a regular spot in the side by boss Mike Ford as they look for a strong finish to the second half of the season

Oxford City’s players will be put through their paces tomorrow, whether or not their home game with Barrow takes place.

With prospects of the Skrill North match at Marsh Lane going ahead rated as slim with yet more rain forecast, boss Mike Ford said the players would not be having a day off.

“With the Gloucester match off on New Year’s Day, the players have had a few days rest, so whatever happens, they will be in.”

He added: “You couldn’t have played football on the pitch yesterday and the weather is not going to get any better.

“If it doesn’t rain, the match is in doubt, but if it does we’re in trouble.”

With City three points clear of the relegation zone, Ford said he was keen for a strong finish to the second half of the campaign.

“The priority now is to make ourselves safe,” said Ford.

Ford felt last season’s tenth-placed finish may have given people the wrong impression.

“I think there was too much expectation on us after last season.

“There was talk about promotion and getting in the play-offs, but we are nowhere near that.

“My aim for this season was to improve on last year, but we do need to get some more points.”

Ford said: “Having played Stockport, Gloucester and Solihull Moors over Christmas, the Gloucester game was the one we wanted to win – and we did (1-0).

“Barrow are in that category, but it’s going to be tough.”

City will be without injured striker Steve Basham, while former Burton midfielder Chris Palmer has left the club after his contract expired.

Meanwhile, Ford has challenged Mark Bell to stake a claim for a regular place after he returned for a third spell.

The winger came on as substitute on Saturday against Solihull.

“He gave the Conference Premier a crack with Nuneaton and it didn’t work out.

“But he needs to be playing regularly before he can have ambitions of playing elsewhere.”

Oxford City (v Barrow, home): from Scott, Ballard, Stonehouse, Benjamin, Learoyd, Willmott, Jackson, Malone, Symons, Pond, Winters, Pook, Cook, McNish, Bell, Henderson.

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