JOHN Mousinho believes Oxford United have to confront what is at stake when they face Portsmouth in the Sky Bet League One play-offs.

It is just over a week before the first leg of the semi-final at Fratton Park, with the U’s three games away from claiming a place in the Championship.

Mousinho has experienced both sides of the high-pressure clashes during his time at Stevenage.

While he was part of the side edged out by Sheffield United in the semi-finals eight years ago, the defender was the hero 12 months earlier.

Despite being suspended for the previous three games, he scored the winner against Torquay United in the League Two final.

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And the U’s club captain thinks there are elements which can be borrowed from their approach to help this time around.

He said: “What we did at the time was we didn’t treat the play-off matches like they were any other games.

“I know sometimes that’s how people want to approach it, but we recognised the gravity of the situation and tried to address that quite early.

“I think not trying to fob it off as just another game meant we understood the importance of the situation.

“I think we’ll have to do the same this time, we’ll have to recognise it’s an unbelievable place for Oxford to be.

“I think we’ve got to look at the recent history of the club and take it into account.”

United have not been in the second tier since the 1990s.

But like the other sides involved in the last four, they will have adapt to playing behind closed doors due to measures aimed at limiting the risks of spreading coronavirus.

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And Mousinho admitted it will be more of a challenge for some players than others.

“The crowd aren’t there and you’re going to have to motivate yourselves,” he said.

“I think we’ll have to go down other avenues of how we’re going to do that, because naturally some lads do take massive amounts of motivation from coming out to packed stadiums.

“It’s natural when you walk out of the tunnel to feel that rush of adrenalin.”

But the problem can also be a shot in the arm for the side which adapts quickest.

“It’s going to be very strange,” Mousinho said.

“You can’t even compare it to the atmosphere of a pre-season friendly, because it’s going to be even quieter.

“How you get your head around it and deal with it is going to be very interesting.

“Whoever deals with that is going to have a massive advantage.”