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Clarke's ready to take on Hammers
Ryan Clarke is hoping to live up to his previous performance against West Ham United when the Premier League side kick-off Oxford United’s pre-season tonight.
Sam Allardyce’s promoted side will provide a tough examination for the U’s, who only returned to training ten days ago, in the encounter at the Kassam Stadium (7.45).
It is the first meeting between the clubs since a Carling Cup tie at Upton Park almost two years ago, when Scott Parker’s 90th-minute effort gave the hosts a 1-0 win.
Clarke was one of United’s star performers on the night and has fond memories, despite the result.
He said: “It was one of my most memorable performances for Oxford, to be honest.
“I really enjoyed the occasion and pitting myself against all the top-class boys because they were in the Premier League at the time, it was just a shame we conceded right in the last minute because we all held our own.”
Clarke is relishing getting back to playing games, after missing the final month of last season with an abdominal injury.
Now fully recovered, the 30-year-old is under no illusions how difficult it will be against a top-flight side.
He said: “It’s pretty quick to have a game against one of the best teams in the country, but it’s just a good one to get under our belts.
“We’ll all be looking to get our eye in gradually, we won’t be expected to perform miracles.
“Individually, make sure we give a good performance to put into the manger’s head for pre-season and the start of the season.”
West Ham are expected to bring a strong squad.
The east Londoners beat Southend United 3-0 on Saturday with a side which included former Oxfordshire schoolboy Matthew Taylor, Jussi Jaaskelainen, Kevin Nolan and Ricardo Vaz Te.
Rob Hall, who scored six goals on loan with the U’s last season, also featured and is looking forward to a reunion at the Kassam Stadium.
He said: “It would be great to go back there and play again in front of the Oxford fans and nice to be in and around the team and the club because I really enjoyed my time there.”