"We're one game away from the opportunity of playing at Wembley again"
Oxford United continued their involvement in three competitions with a 2-1 win over Bradford City in the Checkatrade Trophy quarter finals last night. After the game, Head Coach Michael Appleton expressed his delight at the way the players responded following their FA Cup heroics on Saturday. He told Yellow Player HD:
"It was always going to be a little bit flat and it was difficult for the players to pick themselves up as much as they did on Saturday. After an OK first ten or 15 minutes we lost our way a little bit and let them dictate to us. We spoke about that at half time and I thought we started the second half pretty well and then we took advantage of them only having ten players on the field for a short period.
"It was almost a classic case of 'sin bin' that they use in Rugby League or hockey. Once we got the two goals we got done with a bit of a sloppy one; we had a couple of opportunities to take the game away from them and it made it a bit more nervous than it should have been.
"The competition has served us well and we've treated it with respect. Every time we play we try to play the strongest team we could in terms of fairness to the squad. We're one game away from the opportunity of playing at Wembley again and we're just waiting to see who we get. It doesn't matter who, we know it's going to be an away tie so it will feel like a semi-final anyway."
Michael then spoke about United's deadline-day signing, Conor McAleny, who joins on loan from Everton until the end of the season.
"Conor is a fantastic talent" he told Yellow Player HD. "He's 24 years old and hasn't played enough games. He's been out on loan a few times from Everton and he's a top, top player. We're delighted that we've got him for a few months; he just needs to play regular football. He's got to come in and earn the right to play and get his place in the team. He can play left side, right side and probably his best position is as a striker. Lunny and Lego know him very well because they're close friends. We've been tracking him for quite a while and we're delighted that we've got him."
While McAleny came in, the popular winger Alex MacDonald was leaving the club to join Mansfield. Michael said:
"It was a difficult decision, I can assure you. He was someone I totally respected, he brought an energy to the group but we have to keep moving on and try to improve as a club all the time. I want to keep bringing players in that I think can take us to the next level and we had the opportunity to allow Macca to go and play regular first-team football and for us to bring in that extra bit of quality."
Finally, turning to Sunday's game at Swindon:
"We want to get back to where we were when we came off the pitch at Rochdale," Michael said. "We want to get back to league action and to concentrate on picking up as many points as we possibly can. It's a massive game and one that the players will be looking forward to. It's been a tough three days and they've got a couple of days now to regroup and re-energise and we'll be back in on Friday to start preparing for Swindon."
You can see the full interview on Yellow Player HD right now.