DES Buckingham has named the same starting XI for the last three games, and faces the task of whether to make that four at Wembley.

Selecting the team and bench for the Sky Bet League One play-off final against Bolton Wanderers will not be easy, and neither will the conversations with those who miss out.

Barnsley got joy against the Trotters in the semi-finals, by making use of target man Sam Cosgrove.

And with Will Goodwin back in training, Buckingham will surely be considering reintegrating his January addition, following an injury layoff.

Here’s our predicted starting line-up and bench for this afternoon’s game.

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Jamie Cumming was in inspired form during the semi-finals, putting in his best displays in an Oxford United shirt after joining on loan from Chelsea in January. Only a late fitness problem will deprive him of starting between the posts.


This is when it gets tricky. Centre halves Elliott Moore and Ciaron Brown pick themselves, while Joe Bennett seems to be in front of Greg Leigh for the left back slot.

At right back though, it’s so close between Sam Long and Fin Stevens. That’s not helped by the fact Stevens played the first half of the second leg against Peterborough United, but was taken off at half-time after picking up a booking, with Long replacing him in the second half.

The switch wasn’t a reflection on Stevens’ performance, but just more so that Buckingham wanted to play it safe on that side. After all, it was Coventry City bound Ephron Mason-Clark who was causing problems down that side.

Stevens has played the last six games at right back, with Long used centrally for three of them, and the Brentford loanee may well just edge the battle.

Herald Series:


An area which is settled now, with Cameron Brannagan as the single six, and Tyler Goodrham and Ruben Rodrigues in front of him.

Goodrham hobbled off in the second leg against Peterborough, but he’s trained this week. If he’s not ready, expect Marcus McGuane to be his deputy again.


Similarly to the midfield trio, the forward line is one we’ve grown used to now. Owen Dale will play off the right, with Josh Murphy on the left. Leading scorer Mark Harris will lead the attack, and on 19 goals for the season, he’ll be desperate to make that 20.

Herald Series: Oxford Mail predicted starting XIOxford Mail predicted starting XI (Image: Lineup 11)


The big call will be whether Goodwin is named on the bench, but for that to happen, someone has to miss out.

It’s a huge decision to make, and arguably a risk too, so on that front, it will likely be the same bench of Simon Eastwood, Josh McEachran, Billy Bodin and Marcus Browne, plus the aforementioned Long, Leigh and McGuane.