We travelled up to Bolton yesterday in preparation for today’s game against a really good side.

They play nice football and will be looking to keep their momentum going after their promotion last season.

It’s a fantastic stadium and I’m sure there will be a big crowd this afternoon, but I know we’ll have our usual wonderful support from our travelling fans who we missed so much last season.

You know I love a statistic, so I got someone to check last season’s away record against the one before to see if we could measure the effect our away fans had.

It’s hard to compare the number of wins or the goals scored, because there were five games fewer in the 2019/20 campaign because of the lockdown.

But that year, with fans, we had the fourth-best record away from home in the division, whereas last season in empty grounds we had the tenth.

I sometimes wonder what might have happened if our fans had been at Wembley for the play-off final against Wycombe, or when Matty Taylor scored away at Blackpool in last season’s semi-final.

Our fans love an away day and I’m sure we’ll have fantastic backing today and at QPR on Tuesday night, for a game that’s always going to bring back great memories for our club.

James Henry: Every Oxford United player must be ready

We’re going to have to be sensible with our team selection for these two games because one or two key players are struggling with injuries and illness.

You don’t want to rush someone back at this stage of the season and then see them break down and miss a far longer chunk.

Equally, we want to carry on our promising start and to do that we need our best players on the pitch!

It’s a balancing act, but I have enormous faith in our sports science team and we work very closely together on things like this.

We also have a very strong squad, so I know there are players desperate to come in and make it hard for me to leave them out.

That depth really excites me for the season ahead, but it’s also why I have to sound a note of caution.

We have started well. So have half the division.

Every manager in the league will be saying the same thing this weekend, that their team has room for improvement.

It’s weird: last season we played well and got no reward in the beginning, this time around we haven’t been at our best in the last two games but have won them both.

Hopefully today we get the full thing: a good performance and three points for those travelling fans.

Preview: Oxford United Women prepare for first away game of the season

As I promised, I went along to watch the women’s side last Sunday and I really enjoyed seeing them start their season with a win against Gillingham.

They played really well and I think will challenge at the top of a really strong division this year.

I then watched the Under 21s in a thrilling game against Huddersfield at Thame on Wednesday.

They came back from 4-1 down to 4-3 and showed plenty of character – Joel Cooper was exceptional and his attitude was spot-on, as well as scoring two goals, – but they couldn’t quite complete the comeback.

Both games had something in common: talented footballers wearing the yellow shirt with pride and showing once again the whole club, not just the first team, is moving in the right direction.