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FOOTBALL: Basham return sets City poser
Striker Steve Basham’s return to fitness presents manager Mike Ford with a welcome selection dilemma ahead of Oxford City’s clash against Workington in Blue Square Bet North at Court Place Farm tomorrow (3pm).
Basham has recovered from a groin strain, which forced him to sit out City’s 2-0 win at Hinckley.
But in his absence, fourth-placed City continued their impressive start to the campaign with Jamie Cook being partnered by Nabil Sharif up front.
Now Ford has to decide whether to team up former Oxford United forwards Basham and Cook again.
“That is quite an exciting proposition for myself,” he said.
“But although Nabil has not scored when he has played, we have scored goals, so it is a big decision for me on Saturday.”
Whichever pairing Ford chooses it leaves him with a highly capable back-up plan.
And he stressed the importance of the players treating it as a squad game.
“A group is only a good group because of the group – not because of the 11,” he added.
As if to illustrate this, Ford said he has been encouraged by the reaction of Albi Skendi, who has battled his way back into the first-team set-up.
Missing though will be Liam Malone, who has a one-match ban after being sent off for two cautionable offences in the FA Cup defeat at Yate Town.
Workington face a 1,088-mile round trip, but Ford felt the distance the Cumbrian club had to travel wouldn’t have any bearing on the game.
“I don’t see that being an issue for them,” he said. “They will be well used to travelling long distances and maybe going overnight.”
Ford watched the Cumbrian club draw 1-1 at Barwell in the FA Cup last Saturday – they won the replay 2-0 on Tuesday – and was impressed.
“I thought they were very decent,” he added. “They had a good attitude and were quite young with a good smattering of experience in the team.”
Oxford City: from Carter, Mills, Stonehouse, Learoyd, Willmott, Benjamin, Pond, Sharif, Cook, Walcott, Barcelos, Gunn, Basham, Skendi, Ballard.
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