Training camp memories unite Oxford United

Herald Series: Oxford United’s players are put through their paces in a pre-season army camp, but used the experience to help them beat Gateshead last week Oxford United’s players are put through their paces in a pre-season army camp, but used the experience to help them beat Gateshead last week

MEMORIES of a gruelling pre-season training camp helped Oxford United push themselves to a victory which set up tonight’s trip to Wrexham.

Chris Wilder’s men have lost just once in 11 games and in recent weeks have continued to get results despite dealing with an increasingly long injury list.

The situation reached its most serious point last Thursday, when they travelled to Gateshead for an FA Cup first round replay without eight senior players.

Injuries ruled out two more during the game, leaving them with a patched-up side where several players were in unfamiliar roles.

But the makeshift side found a way to win the game, thanks to Deane Smalley’s 116th-minute penalty.

In between the end of 90 minutes and the start of extra time the players found inspiration.

It came from a tough army camp the squad had gone through in July, which challenged them physically and mentally.

James Constable said: “The players amongst ourselves were saying ‘remember the camp’.

“It’s no different really, especially on Thursday night, you are in a situation where you have to dig in going into extra time.

“We knew it was going to be tough, there were people pulling up with cramp and lads going off with niggles.

“It was one of those times you have to dig in and try to get the best result.

“When we got back you can reflect on what was a massive result for us personally and for the club.

“Now we can look forward to Wrexham and another big game.”

Goalkeeper Ryan Clarke is claiming credit for bringing up the camp as a source of motivation.

He said: “Not mentioning any names, but I think I just shouted out just before extra time.

“When we were all in a very bad place at the army camp and feeling very low, we were getting each other through it.

“After the 90 minutes it was a bit of a grind the other night, but that shout came out.

“There were a few people that laughed and a few who looked a bit scared, but the team spirit really got us through.

“We all stuck together and you could see afterwards how happy everyone was.”

He added: “We have the belief now that whoever we play we have got a good chance of going through.”

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