Decision time for Oxford boss Wilder

Steve MacLean (left) heads for goal against Cheltenham while on-loan at Oxford last season. The roles are reversed today when the striker plays for the Robins – whom he joined on loan on Thursday

Steve MacLean (left) heads for goal against Cheltenham while on-loan at Oxford last season. The roles are reversed today when the striker plays for the Robins – whom he joined on loan on Thursday

First published in Prem & F League Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by , Chief Sports Reporter covering Oxford United. Follow us on twitter: @oxfordmailoufc. Call me on 01865 425458

James Constable is pushing for a return to the Oxford United starting line-up in today’s crunch trip to promotion rivals Cheltenham Town.

The U’s top-scorer made his comeback from a three-game suspension as a second-half substitute in Tuesday’s 1-0 home win against AFC Wimbledon.

After the game United boss Chris Wilder felt there were tired legs and minds in his team, so will consider freshening the side up for the visit to Whaddon Road.

With no new injury concerns, the squad is likely to be unchanged, but Constable and Damian Batt, also a substitute in midweek, will be at the front of the queue for a call-up into the starting XI.

Wilder, who also has loan striker Cristian Montano pushing for a start, said: “We had a head count on Thursday because it was a tough game on Tuesday night, so it’s just about ticking the boys over at the moment.

“But we’re in good nick and I should imagine a lot of teams are having a little look over their shoulder.”

The U’s, who will be cheered on by around 1,500 travelling fans, are looking for a third win in eight days after home victories against Wimbledon and Rotherham.

And Wilder believes a run of one defeat in 11 games will be a concern for the rest of the sides in contention for promotion.

“A lot of teams below will be desperate for us to keep slipping up and the teams above will be thinking we’re coming with a decent run and we’re dangerous opponents,” he said.

“It’s all to play for at an exciting time in the season.”

Cheltenham have lost their last four games, but strengthened their squad before the loan window closed on Thursday.

Steve MacLean, who scored six goals on loan for Oxford last season, arrived from Yeovil on Thursday, alongside fellow striker Ben Burgess, recruited from Notts County.

Burgess is likely to start up front with top-scorer Darryl Duffy.

It is likely to mean a change of shape from the favoured 4-5-1 to 4-4-2 as they look to end a run of almost six hours without a goal.

TODAY’S SQUADS Cheltenham Tn (probable): Butland, Jombati, Elliott, Bennett, Garbutt, McGlashan, Penn, Pack, Mohamed, Burgess, Duffy. Subs from: Lowe, Summerfield, Spencer, Low, Smikle, Goulding, MacLean.

Oxford Utd: from Clarke, Whing, Wright, Duberry, Davis, Leven, Chapman, Hall, Johnson, Rendell, Morgan, Constable, Batt, Tonkin, Montano, Worley, Brown, McLaren, Wilson.

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