Oxford United kick off their Sky Bet League 1 home games against Sunderland on Saturday with boss Karl Robinson expecting a tight game between two sides who have been evenly matched over the last two seasons.
"The expectations are just as much on us as Sunderland this season really” he told iFollow. “We have brought that on ourselves because we have built a reputation for ourselves now and other teams will see us as a scalp. You saw that in the AFC game and at Lincoln where they both sat deep behind the ball and made it hard for us. We are asking for more crosses into the box, greater dominance in certain areas in those types of games.
“But we are coming up against a Sunderland side who you know are going to be totally prepared and in recent years our results against each other have been hard fought for both sides.
“The game will be highly competitive as always because there is tremendous respect between both teams and we expect two good games against them, home and away, this season. It’s a crying shame that you can’t have supporters in the stands to see it.
“We are stretched in terms of injuries but we always knew this time of year would be difficult. At no stage did we think anything other than that because of the short pre-season and the lack of time we had.
"But we aren’t panicking and we will come through it. Matty Taylor and Mark Sykes didn’t train today, Sam Winnall is still getting himself fit, Jash Ruffels, Jamie Hanson, Alex Gorrin and John Mousinho are not with us and Sean Clare too. But there are still 48 hours until we play and we will wait and see who recovers.
“We have no midweek game next week so we can concentrate on getting people fit. It’s frustrating but we don't get too affected by it. Two years ago we had the same situation where we kept losing players after a wonderful pre-season, but we are happy with the team that will take to the pitch at the weekend and the team will be stronger than it was two years ago because we are in a much better place.”
See the whole game in iFollow on Saturday. Season Ticket holders have been sent a code but you can also watch for just £10 RIGHT HERE