Oxford United Head Coach Karl Robinson writes in the Coventry City Carabao Cup programme:
Good evening everyone and a warm welcome to Mark Robins and his Coventry side for tonight’s Carabao Cup tie. Coventry fully deserved their promotion last season and are a really good side, but we are a good team ourselves and a decent run in the cup always gets fans excited. You only have to look at the new boards in the tunnel to see what the ‘League Cup’ means to Oxford United, so we will do our best to make progress tonight.
People talk about needing a little bit of luck in the cup and right now we could do with a little bit of luck going our way. In the first game of the season we lost Samir Carruthers inside 20 minutes, and then on Saturday we had even worse luck with Simon Eastwood having to pull out in the warm up. I’m not usually too bad with things like that but just seeing the damage made even me a little bit squeamish. It’s going to keep him out for a while, but we will assess how bad it is with the medical team, take stock of what we have, and decide how we cope in his absence.
Whoever plays in goal, we know we have to tighten up in defence because we have conceded six in two games so far. It’s a collective thing, not just the lads at the back but also everyone taking responsibility in front of them. Even so, I hope you have now had a chance to take another look at the first goal we conceded to Fleetwood on Saturday. There is a blatant foul on Tony McMahon by Ched Evans in the build-up and it allows Evans to get into the area unmarked for what looked a simple goal. I honestly think we were the better team, certainly until that point, and such moments make a huge difference in a tight game.
Our response has to be positive and it has to start tonight, but at the same time I think we need a bit of perspective. Every team will have a spell where things go against them this season; ours just seems to have come right at the start. We will improve and grow, we all know that. We made good signings last Thursday in Jamie Hanson and Ricky Holmes as well as the youth and energy of Tsun Dai. As I expected, you took to Ricky straight away and I am sure you will do the same with Jamie, who is such a tenacious character, somethings all fans love to see.
We are having to be cute in how we get people match fit, because if you look at the forwards on Saturday then Ricky, Sam Smith, Rob Hall and Jamie Mackie have all missed out on a full pre-season. They gave it their all, but I think there is so much more to come from all of them. We have to balance how we get them that match sharpness and we will have to think hard about what team we put out tonight, but one thing I can guarantee you is that whoever we select will be part of a team we believe can win the game and get us through.
Finally, thank you for your patience on Saturday. I thought you stuck with us and were superb. Get behind us once again tonight please and let’s get that first win out of the way.