Oxford United welcome Grimsby Town to the Kassam Stadium on Saturday in the second round of the Emirates FA Cup.
“It’s a wonderful tradition and we will pay the competition the respect that it is due” Head Coach Des Buckingham told us as he prepares for his FA Cup debut in charge.
“Players enjoy playing in it and although we have the league as a priority I know the competition can give fans great memories. The last time I saw Oxford play in it was at Arsenal away and although we lost 2-0 it was a great day for all the fans and we want to try and get through and then who knows what can happen?
“It’s an opportunity for players to show what they can do in two cup games this week now. We will put out teams that we believe can get us through and keep our progress going. Marcus Browne will be involved provided he comes through training OK on Frday, and Joe Bennett will be involved for the first time.
“Greg Leigh came back with a slight calf injury from playing for Jamaica and we hope to see him back some time in December but in the meantime we have a lot of games coming up thick and fast, we still have Sam Long two or three weeks away from his return and we just wanted to make sure we have good cover in that area. Joe gives us that and more. To have someone of his quality and experience come in is great. He will get up to speed quickly and when he does we have Joe, Ciaron Brown and Greg Leigh all pushing for one place which is fantastic competition.”
The covers have been on the pitch at the Kassam Stadium and training has been fine this week despite winter setting in across Oxfordshire:
“Coming back from India and two and a half years of temperatures around 34 degrees with anything below 30 a rarity, and then to come back and be scraping ice off the car has been very different this week!” Des laughed. “But we are used to it and the players have just got on with everything as usual. We moved training back a little to let the ground thaw a bit today and we have looked at the warm ups to make allowances for the weather but the players have all done plenty of seasons and are used to the cold conditions.
“I’m sure the fans will be used to it too and will wrap up warm and be there to get behind us again on Saturday.”