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FOOTBALL: Ford relishes City's baptism
10:00am Friday 17th August 2012 in Football
Oxford City boss Mike Ford says his players will have to perform to their maximum in every match, if they are to retain their hard-fought status.
City, who start their adventure at home to highly-fancied Chester tomorrow, gained promotion with a 4-2 play-off final victory against AFC Totton, and Ford is determined they will enjoy the challenge.
“I watched a lot of the Olympics on the telly while I was on holiday,” says Ford.
“And one of the the biggest things that struck me was that the British athletes competing weren’t just happy to be there, they wanted to win a medal – not a bronze, but a gold.
“They had worked hard for four years to get that far and don’t want to miss out on putting on their best performance.
“And that is the sort of attitude we will have to take every time we step out on to the field.
“There is no point in getting promoted if you don’t make the most of the opportunity.
“Team GB’s performances should be an inspiration to us. They have done everything they can to win.
“We have got to give absolutely everything – the players, the management and the staff – every week of the season.
“And if, come April, we end up falling just short, then we can say we have done our very, very best.
“I will be asking the players to give me that little bit extra.”
Meanwhile, Ford has urged his younger players not to be daunted against Chester, but to relish it.
“It’s a fantastic opportunity for the young lads to play against former league clubs, like Chester and Halifax in front of big crowds,” said Ford.
“Some of the younger ones that were with us last season left because they didn’t think they would get in the team.
“But those that stayed, like Albi Skendi, Felipe Barcelos and Kynan Isaac, have the ideal opportunity to show what they can do.
“I remember when I was their age making my debut aged 18 for Cardiff at Leeds (in 1984).
“I was very nervous beforehand, but I really enjoyed it.
“They have a great opportunity to do something in football and if they don’t take up that challenge and give it everything they have got, then they are going to miss out.”
Former Oxford United frontman Jamie Cook, keeper Warren Carter and Nabil Sharif are set for their City debuts.
Nick Stanley (ankle) and skipper Wayne Blossom (unavailable) miss out.
Former City defender James Clarke has signed for Salisbury on a full-time contract.
Oxford City (v Chester, home): from Carter, Gunn, Learoyd, Willmott, Ballard, Isaac, Stonehouse, Lyon, Benjamin, Malone, Martin, Cook, Barcelos, Skendi, Basham, Sharif.