RICARDINHO is preparing himself for a leap into the unknown as the Oxford United defender gets a first taste of playing at Christmas.

The Brazilian’s normal routine involves a trip to the beach, having always played in countries who are either on a winter break or in the off-season at this time of year.

So the idea of four games in ten days has taken some adjustment.

“I’ve never seen this before,” he said.

“We play on Saturday and I thought maybe we wouldn’t have a game next Tuesday before playing on Saturday again, but they say ‘no we have to play because this is England’.

“It will be fun to have this great experience.

“It’s just understanding how important this is for the club and the fans.

“It’s a big difference here.

“Usually we would be going to the beach but now we’ll be on the bus travelling to play a game.”

Being away will be especially strange given Ricardinho has a week-old baby in the house.

The birth saw him miss last weekend’s goalless draw at Rochdale, but he is available again for tomorrow’s home game with Sky Bet League One leaders Wigan Athletic.

He said: “It’s hard when you have to leave and sleep in the hotel (before games), especially now when you have a new baby.

“It’s OK, it’s all part of it.

“We’re prepared to do our best and fight for the points.We have good players and we’ve trained hard to be ready for this situation.”

The Christmas period is not the only quirk of English football which has been new to the 33-year-old.

While the Latics arrive four points clear and looking for a fifth straight victory, Ricardinho has learned no result can be taken for granted.

He said: “I was in Sweden and Brazil and if you’re in the top three and playing (against a lower side) usually you win.

“We always have to play hard here because otherwise they can beat you.

“We have so many hard games and everyone fights and works hard and tries to improve.

“We know they are first and are playing really well.

“It’s not easy, but if we do the correct things in the game and pay attention for 90 minutes we have a great chance to win.”