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Club News

Oxford warm-up

25 January 2013

Fleetwood Town face a side rich in form when Oxford United make their first visit to Highbury on Saturday.

by David Mitchell

Fleetwood Town face a side rich in form when Oxford United make their first visit to Highbury on Saturday.

Oxford are also the only team yet to play Town after the game at the Kassam Stadium was a victim of the weather just before Christmas. Victory could take Town back into the play-off positions. Both sides have had their preparation hampered by the weather but have, nevertheless, made much of the situation. Town manager, Graham Alexander, was delighted to be able to train at Highbury on Thursday: 'We needed to be on grass and hopefully the pitch will recover in time to give us a good game on Saturday. We also fixed up a Bounce game with Blackpool to get the lads more game time. Ideally, everyone wants to be in the first team but that's what they have to work towards and they need to prove their commitment in everything we organise.' For Oxford, their training pitches have been snow-covered so much of the preparation has been taking place in a nearby indoor Dome. As assistant manager, Mickey Lewis, told the club's website: 'It's a really good surface and the lads enjoy it there but it's obviously frustrating not to be able to get out on the pitches at the training ground. However, training has gone really well.' Alexander knows that his team are facing another stern challenge: 'It's going to be a tough game. Oxford are doing well but they will know it won't be easy and we have to make things as difficult as possible for them. All successful sides have good home form and we know that we need to improve ours. We want to entertain and make our supporters believe in us. That is our responsibility to the public.' The U's have won their last four league games and not lost an npower fixture since 17 November. Last Saturday's game with Rotherham was called off but Oxford showed their credentials seven days earlier with a 2-1 victory at League Cup finalists Bradford City. Chris Wilder's side currently lie 12th with 38 points but with matches in hand they will be targeting a play-off spot at least and hoping to retain it after narrowly missing out last season when they failed to win any of their last seven matches. The break from action will allow striker Deane Smalley (groin)and midfielder Adam Chapman (ankle) to come back into contention. Definitely out is keeper Ryan Clarke who missed the Bradford game and has been ruled out for at least 10 weeks because of shoulder surgery. Wayne Brown is set to continue in goal. Midfielder Liam Davis is unavailable with a hamstring strain and striker, James Constable, serves the last of a four-match ban. Defender Luke O'Brien stands by after signing a new deal that will keep him at the club for the rest of the season. Lewis acknowledged the challenge up against them: 'Fleetwood deserve to be where they are. They've come through the leagues, invested in a lot of good players and have a big squad. They have done well and we know it's going to be a very tough game up there. We are in a good run of form ourselves but you don't take anything for granted. We were disappointed not to have a game last week but there's nothing you can do with the English weather and everyone is chomping at the bit this week.' Oxford made a return to the Football League in 2010 after coming through the play-offs with victory over York City in the final.

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