9:30am Saturday 30th November 2013
By David Pritchard
MICHAEL Raynes believes Oxford United’s injuries mean the league leaders will be underdogs at Fleetwood Town this afternoon.
The U’s are unbeaten on the road in Sky Bet League Two this season, impressively winning six of their eight games.
But they will again be without six senior first-team players this afternoon, so the 18-man matchday squad will include seven members of the development squad.
The bookmakers agree with United’s in-form centre half, making the visitors 11-4 shots to win, with the hosts evens favourite to collect the three points.
The U’s did not make a move in the loan market before the window closed on Thursday, while many of their rivals strengthened.
Promotion hopefuls Fleetwood were among them, bringing in Nathan Tyson from neighbours Blackpool.
Raynes admits the selection issues are not ideal, but is relishing the chance to take on the division’s sharpest attack.
He said: “We are the underdogs going there down to the bare bones, but we will go there with nothing to lose.
“They’ve got Tyson, who is a Championship player.
“I don’t know what he is doing in League Two, but that’s the way it is – they’re spending money and trying to have a right good go at it.
“It will be a tough day for us, but you want to play against the best.”
The two sides only met for the first time at Highbury in January, a game Raynes does not remember fondly.
A torrid afternoon for the U’s, which ended in a 3-0 defeat, began when the defender’s attempted clearance struck Jamille Matt and flew 25 yards over a stranded Wayne Brown and into the net.
“We conceded one of the flukiest goals I’ve ever seen last season and that just killed us,” Raynes said.
“If I did that another million times it would never happen, but that set the tone for the day.
“We owe them one really.”
U’s boss Chris Wilder is expected to name the same XI and substitutes which shared a goalless draw with Newport County at home on Tuesday.
Fleetwood would leapfrog United with a victory, but have blown hot and cold this season.
A 2-0 reverse at Accrington in midweek was their seventh league defeat of the campaign – the highest in the top ten.
They are missing injured strikers Matt and David Ball, but the loan signings of Tyson and Huddersfield’s Daniel Carr means manager Graham Alexander has plenty of options.
Fleetwood: from Davies, McLaughlin, Cresswell, Pond, Taylor, Evans, Schumacher, Murdoch, Hughes, Sarcevic, Tyson, Jordan, Parkin, Carr, Lucas, Roberts, Hogan, Blair, Dieseruvwe.
Oxford Utd: probable Clarke, Hunt, Raynes, Mullins, Newey, Williams, Hall, Rose, Ruffels, Kitson, Constable. Subs: Marsh, O’Dowda, Bevans, Lynn, Davies, Long, Crocombe.
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