KARL Robinson says Oxford United’s players should be dreading their next stage of pre-season.

The U’s flew out to Ireland this morning after spending the last two days doing a series of tests at Abingdon School.

But things are about to get a lot tougher with Robinson believing if the squad have a smile on their face at the end of a tough schedule, they will be able to take on anything.

“I have said to them that if you can get through my next two weeks not much more will challenge you,” the United boss said.

“They should have been looking forward to the first two days and the flight to Ireland. But they will be dreading the next week.”

Three senior players were not on the flight, but two of them will soon join up with the squad.

Goalkeeper Simon Eastwood is due to meet up with his teammates on Tuesday after his wife gave birth to a daughter, Emilia.

And new signing Tony McMahon flies out on Monday after attending the funeral of his father.

The other not to make the trip, Ivo Pekalski, will stay behind as he continues to look for a new club after being told he was surplus to requirements.

“We did a lot of work to get all the ‘outs’ done, it is only Ivo left that we felt needed to go on to pastures new,” Robinson said.

“He won’t be joining us in Ireland.

“And with the others, when things like that happen I have no problem whatsoever with people doing what they need to do with their families.”

United’s boss uses a tried and trusted pre-season schedule and sees no reason to change that this year.

“I think if you look at the times I have been going to Ireland I have had three play-off campaigns, one automatic promotion, one relegation from the Championship – which was a given – and only one real dead year,” he said.

“The trip is all so meticulously planned. There are no grey areas – everyone knows what they are doing and when.”

He added: “I think more and more teams are getting away from the hot Portugal and Spain pre-seasons and are heading to places like Ireland and Scandinavia.

“I think 22 British teams went to Ireland last year for pre-season.

“The pitches are outstanding, the people are fantastic, the weather is conducive to what we play in, there’s no language barrier and if you sign a player it’s just a 30-minute flight.

“It gives us a flexibility to do what we want.”