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Carry On Wayne
The U’s may have to manage without Clarke for the rest of the season, with the No 1 needing operations on both shoulders.
Brown came in for only his third appearance of the campaign on Saturday, but the player/coach was at fault for the opening goal in United’s 2-1 win at Bradford City.
The 36-year-old is vastly experienced, having made more than 500 appearances during his career, and he quickly accepted the responsibility after the game, tweeting: “Error by me but this is part of being a keeper.”
Wilder put the mistake down to a lack of match action and the United manager intends to stick with Brown, form permitting.
“Wayne will get us through this period and if not, we’ll have to make a decision off the back of it,” he said.
“Wayne will pick it up. He didn’t have a lot to do (at Bradford) and he just needed that game.
“Fortunately it’s not hurt us, he just made a decision and possibly he should stay there and let Dubes (Michael Duberry) head it back.
“But after that he tipped one over the bar, he kicked well and commanded his area well.”
Youth team graduate Max Crocombe is the only viable alternative to Brown within the squad, but he is yet to make a senior appearance for United.
The 19-year-old is rated highly, but there are dangers in playing a youngster in such a key position.
Last season, injuries to Clarke and Brown saw Connor Ripley drafted in on loan from Middlesbrough for a crunch game against Southend United in the run-in, only for the teenager to concede a soft goal in his single appearance.
Wilder is confident Crocombe will develop into a good player, but doubts whether now is the time to throw him in at the deep end.
He said: “Max is a young keeper who we think a lot about and we’re sure he will kick on and play senior football.
“You can chuck him in and he might fly, or something might happen and he might go under.
“I don’t think it’s fair on him, especially because he’s not played a lot of football as well.
“He’s one for the future.”
TONIGHT Oxford United and Barnsley will try for a fourth time to stage their FA Youth Cup tie (7).
An unplayable pitch at Thame United has forced three postponements of the third-round game.
In an effort to get the fixture on, the U’s agreed to switch the match to this evening at Barnsley’s Oakwell ground.
But with snow and freezing temperatures forecast for the region, it may be in doubt once again.
See www.oxfordmail.co.uk/sport for news on whether the game goes ahead.
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