Oxford United are looking to maintain high standards when they come under a tough examination today by a full strength Cardiff City (3pm).
The Championship club, who reached the play-offs and Carling Cup final last season, visit the Kassam Stadium for a pre-season friendly.
Time is running out for United’s players to stake a claim in the starting XI, with only ten days left before the season kicks off in the Capital One Cup at home to Bournemouth.
The U’s are unbeaten in five pre-season games and manager Chris Wilder wants a repeat of the performance against West Ham, who were beaten 1-0 at the Kassam last month.
He said: “I’ll be delighted if we show the same standards as we did against West Ham, because I thought we were excellent in everything we did. That was with the ball and without it, the way we competed and our attitude.”
United, who lost 3-1 after extra time to Cardiff in the Carling Cup last season, only flew back from their US tour on Wednesday.
Wilder admits the lingering effects of jetlag could be a factor, but is looking forward to a tough game.
He said: “I don’t know how much the journey will take out of us, we’ll only know on Saturday, but we’ll prepare as well as we can do and give it a go. It’s a difficult test against a club which I would imagine will be expected to go up to the Premier League.
“They’ve been close for the last couple of seasons, we had a great game with them last year and I was a bit disappointed we didn’t win.”
Adam Chapman and Sean McGinty, who did not travel to the United States due to visa problems, will come back into the squad.
Simon Heslop is the only new injury concern and will sit it out with a minor back problem, while triallists Courtney Harris, Ryan Tafazolo and ex-Cardiff defender Alex Evans are again included.
Cardiff manager Malky Mackay is expected to name his strongest possible side, including Iceland striker Heidar Helguson, who signed from QPR yesterday.
It will be a reunion for United’s Tony Capaldi, who played 77 games for Cardiff during a three-year spell from 2007.
He said: “Although it’s not a competitive game it’ll still be nice to play them and see a few old friends.
“There’s still five or six left from when I was there, Peter Whittingham’s a good mate of mine and I still speak to him quite a lot.”
Oxford Utd: from Clarke, Batt, Wright, Raynes, Capaldi, Cox, Forster-Caskey, Chapman, Potter, Constable, Rigg, Brown, McGinty, Evans, Tafazoli, Harris, Pittman, Smalley, Craddock.
Cardiff City: from Marshall, Blake, Hudson, Turner, Taylor, Conway, Kiss, Whittingham, Ralls, Earnshaw, Velikonja, Helguson, Lewis , Parish, Oshilaja, Keinan, Nugent, John, Sainte-Luce, Wharton, Hill, Owen, Jarvis, Darko.
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