Oxford United face their biggest test yet when they travel to Middlesbrough in the Emirates FA Cup on Saturday. Michael Appleton’s side caught the headlines by beating Premier League Swansea last season, and have already overcome higher league opponents Rotherham and Newcastle this time around, but as Michael told Yellow Player HD earlier today, a trip to the Riverside represents the toughest challenge so far:
“Absolutely no doubt about it” he said “They are a very good Premier League side and I think they have proven this year how hard they are to beat. A lot of people may talk about them not scoring a lot of goals but they certainly don’t concede many either so in their own back yard it will be a tough task, but the players are certainly looking forward to it
“We know that if we don’t give them the respect that they deserve we will get a right hiding on the day but I don’t think Aitor Karanka and the Middlesbrough lads will underestimate us at all. I think the fact that we went up against Rotherham and Newcastle in the previous rounds and did ever so well in the FA Cup last year means they’ve done their homework and will be ready for us.”
Left back Joe Skarz
returns to the squad after a sickness bug forced him to miss Tuesday night’s home game against Southend.
“Joe is over his illness and we know he will be pushing to try and get himself back in the squad” Michael confirmed.
There were a dozen journalists and film crews at the training ground today for pre-match media interviews and the FA Cup still creates its own buzz, especially for a United side pushing to reach the quarter finals for the first time in over 50 years.
“Long may that buzz around the competition continue” Michael said. “We want as many days and nights as we can playing in cup competitions like the FA Cup. We’ve got another big day on Saturday that everyone is looking forward to; fans, staff, and players. Bring it on and let’s see what happens.”