Oxford United kick off their season with a Carabao Cup game at home to AFC Wimbledon on Saturday.
It’s a chance for Karl Robinson’s new-look side to test themselves in a competitive fixture for the first time but as he told iFollow earlier, the lack of fans means a very different start this time around for the U’s.
“When you look at the competition and the money you can make then we want to get to the higher rounds and play games like West Ham last season” Karl said. “ We want to give finances to the club but in this new world you aren’t going to get that because rounds two, three and four will still be behind closed doors- the next round is a week Tuesday and fans won’t be there for that.
“But it’s a game and we are approaching it in the same way as any other. Whoever you play you want to win, even in a five a side the lads all want to win it.”
New signing Sean Clare misses out through a suspension still hanging over him from Scotland while Joel Cooper is away with Northern Ireland and Jamie Hanson is likely to miss the first month of the season with a calf strain.
“All the players are playing for a place in the league side” Karl insisted. “The competition for places is always there at this stage of the season. I know my team for this game and for the Trophy game on Tuesday. Only three will play in both games so people will get their chance.”
Centre-half Rob Atkinson will be one to get his chance after impressing in the friendlies so far, stepping into the side in place of the recently departed Rob Dickie.
“Rob Dickie has moved on and nobody here will say a bad word about him” Karl said. “We are very proud of his progress but we will have a new partnership which we have to get right. I watched Elliott Moore play on the left before we signed him and when he came in we knew Rob Dickie would improve on the right last season. We think Elliott will be the same, moving across, and having Rob Atkinson gives us that natural balance because he is left-sided. It will be good to see that pairing in action.”
The whole game is available to stream in iFollow for just £10
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