Oxford United boss Karl Robinson is happy with his team’s progress after the first four matches of pre-season and will now look for things to gather pace as the U’s prepare for the first league game away at Sunderland in August.
“It has been a really good week” Karl said after the U’s concluded their first round of games with a win at Brackley last night - their third win in three nights. “The game at Rangers was a great experience and some of the young lads will have benefitted enormously from that day; there is a history about Ibrox and a passion from the fans plus they saw that over a thousand Oxford fans were prepared to travel hundreds of miles to support their team in a friendly: that is outstanding support and something we will never take for granted.
“Then we have played at Oxford City, Thame and Brackley and around two and a half thousand fans have come to watch those games. That’s great for those clubs and we want to build those relationships. Last summer for example we had nowhere to train but one phone call and Thame said we could train there, which was fantastic. We have a strong partnership with City and then last night hopefully we raised some money for Brackley after their fire this summer, so it has been a very positive week all round.
“The games have been competitive, everyone has had game time and I think we are in a decent place.”
At this stage of pre-season there are always aches and pains and Karl told us a little more:
“Tariqe Fosu was just a little fatigued so he sat out last night’s game. He will be involved at Woking on Saturday and has been house hunting in the area and will be moving up next week, as with Alex Gorrin; it’s important that they feel part of Oxfordshire really. Rob Hall withstood a tough tackle at Thame on Wednesday which we were all waiting for; it sounds harsh but we needed to see how he recovered in matches. He is fine but his target was never really to start the first game, just be ready for half an hour and to build from that. He is on schedule and we have Jamie Mackie to come back next week and Shandon Baptiste doing great and hopefully back in full training soon.”
Hall and Fosu are due to play at Woking on Saturday as United continue an intensive week of training and matches.
“The players have been outstanding” Karl told us. “They have played four games in five days, travelled down from Glasgow in the middle of it, and trained each day too. There are a few tired bodies but that is good and now is the time to concentrate on that fitness that helps you for the whole season. We aren’t there yet in terms of bodies; there will be new faces come into the group and we are very close to that now. It moves and changes all the time but we are talking to players and we know we will strengthen over the next week or so.
“The games will get more difficult now. Woking are a decent side and that will be a challenge for us, but I am really pleased with where we are right now after a tough but really rewarding week.”
Karl is helping with the draw for the EFL Trophy at lunchtime today. Hear him live on Talk Sport from midday to 1pm.