RYAN Clarke is looking forward to a Memorial Stadium return tomorrow afternoon, even if he initially thought it was a joke.

The Oxford United goalkeeper began his career at Bristol Rovers and has a soft spot for the club despite spending the majority of the six-year spell on the bench as back-up.

So when friends told him when the fixtures came out the U’s were away to the Pirates in the opening game of the season, the 30-year-old did not believe them.

He said: “It’s the first fixture I look for, to be honest.

“When they came out I had a few texts from mates who support them saying it was our opening game and I thought it was a wind-up.”

It is a tricky start for United, away to a Rovers side expected to contend for promotion following a disappointing campaign last season.

But after saving a penalty in the side’s shoot-out victory against Bournemouth in the Capital One Cup on Tuesday, Clarke, and the rest of the squad, will travel in a buoyant mood.

He said: “Home and away we shouldn’t take any team lightly, but at the same time we’ll be confident and ruthless – that’s what will help us get out of this league.

“There’s pressure on both teams for the same reason, because we’re expected to go well this year.

“It’ll be tough, but it’s one we can go into with lots of confidence after the pre-season we’ve had and the result on Tuesday.”