SPOTLAND saw one of Oxford United’s best displays last season, but it is unlikely to inspire much confidence in the visitors’ line-up tomorrow.

Of the side which started the thumping 4-0 victory in January, only Simon Eastwood began against Doncaster Rovers last weekend.

While the likes of Ryan Ledson, Josh Ruffels and Joe Rothwell were in both squads, it does show the scale of the turnover at United in 2017.

For that reason alone, manager Pep Clotet – who himself did not arrive until July – believes lying eighth in Sky Bet League One heading into the Christmas period represents a decent effort.

“I think we can say it’s a positive start, we’re sitting in a good position in the league – not as close (to the play-offs) as everyone wants, but that’s a process,” he said.

While there have been frustrating displays in among a couple of superb wins, overall Clotet is pleased.

And the Spaniard is clear where the responsibility lies.

He said: “I want to massively credit the players for the first half of the season.

“When I came here there weren’t many players and we were selling (John) Lundstram and Marvin Johnson.

“We spent (next to) nothing in the summer, a lot of players were out of contract or free transfers and they’re producing pretty good football.

“They are doing it with joy to be here and everyone should be very happy.

“They have been able to create a good way of playing, to get results and they managed to do something even more difficult, which is to have a great team spirit.

“That’s why I’m very positive about the second half of the season.”

The churn in the squad has not been helped by an injury list which has seen players ruled out with serious problems.

Even if Gino van Kessel makes a long-awaited return to the 18-man matchday squad this weekend, there are still half a dozen players unavailable.

That group includes a couple of key players from last season’s visit to Dale, which all increases Clotet’s belief he would have happily taken United’s current position if it had been offered to him in August.

“In the summer if you’d said ‘listen, we’ll be eighth before Christmas and have Robbie Hall, who is a massive player for us, injured and Curtis Nelson out for the season, would you have taken it?’ I think everyone would have.

“But I never complain about situations in football because they happen to everyone, the focus is to make the best out of it.

“And from the position we are in we want to grow and get as many injured players back as possible to keep fighting and competing.”