Oxford United head for Stamford Bridge tonight as they take on Chelsea Under 21s in the quarter final of the Checkatrade Trophy.
United will wait on the fitness of Wes Thomas and Mike Williamson who both missed Saturday's game against Bury with minor injuries. Agon Mehmeti and Alex Mowatt also picked up knocks in that game and are doubtful while Cameron Brannagan again misses out after turning an ankle in training last week. The new signing from Liverpool will be available when United return to league action at Charlton a week on Saturday.
Left-back Ricardinho returns after a three game suspension but Canice Carroll is ruled out after picking up two yellow cards in the competition. Rob Dickie is cup-tied but Isaac Buckley-Ricketts is available.
Midfielders Josh Ashby and Shandon Baptiste are added to the squad, the latter after returning from his loan spell at Hampton and Richmond Borough.
VIEW FROM THE DUG OUT
Derek Fazackerley takes charge for the first time after the departure of Pep Clotet and told us:
"It's a competition that has been very kind to us over the last couple of years and we're really looking forward to it.
"We know the crowd won't be that big but Stamford Bridge is still a fantastic place to go and play your football and we are going to have to play well because those young Chelsea lads are a very talented bunch. They have already knocked Portsmouth and the MK Dons out so they will be very difficult opponents.
"But from our point of view with no game on Saturday we can focus on this game and we will certainly be playing our strongest team available. We will just wait and see on a couple of knocks and strains before we make a final selection but everyone is raring to go."
THE CHELSEA VIEW
Joe Edwards is the man in charge of the young Blues and he told the official Chelsea website:
"What this competition has shown us is the importance for every player to do their job well. In some matches at youth level, there’s loads of possession and it’s end-to-end with chances created throughout but these games are where the attackers have got to be clinical. That can be the difference between winning and losing but the boys at the back are equally as important.
‘People often talk about the new manager effect, where teams find an extra five or 10 per cent from the players because they’re trying to impress someone else, so that will be a new experience and a taste of the real world for our boys to come up against,’ our boss continues.
‘We’ve obviously been watching their last few games and we know they’re a decent League One team. They have a good balance of some talented footballers but can be very physical and direct at times as well. A lot has changed for them in the day or two leading into this game so we can’t be sure how they’ll set up now but we just have to get ourselves right and focus on what we want to do.
"The big test for us in this competition has been the mental and physical demand, playing against older players with senior experience and players a bit more physically developed.We know first and foremost we need to turn up, compete and earn the right to play, then ultimately we want to play our own game.’
Fans are reminded that there are no tickets available on the night. See below for full details.