9:30am Saturday 12th July 2014
By David Pritchard
Oxford United begin their pre-season fixtures this afternoon (2) with head coach Michael Appleton urging the players to keep it simple.
Conference South side Farnborough host the U’s, four weeks before the Sky Bet League Two campaign kicks off.
It is the first chance for United’s players to show Appleton, who only started work with the squad on Monday, what they can do in action.
The new boss is aware there will be a desire for individuals to make a good impression, but at this stage his priorities are on avoiding injuries and gaining fitness.
He said: “Sometimes it’s a little bit different when a new manager comes in and obviously some of them want to impress.
“I think the biggest message I’ve been saying to them is show me you’re a good player, but do it at the right times.
“Don’t do it when you don’t need to, when there’s an opportunity to pass the ball to better areas.
“Hopefully they will do that on Saturday and one or two will impress.”
United will aim to give everyone 45 minutes at Rushmoor Stadium and could include a couple of triallists.
One is likely to be a goalkeeper, providing back-up to Max Crocombe while Ryan Clarke is injured.
Aside from Andy Whing, who is also recovering from surgery, there are two other players ruled out from today’s trip.
Callum O’Dowda has a minor hamstring problem, while Jon Meades is also struggling.
The Welshman missed the whole of last season after rupturing ankle ligaments in pre-season.
Appleton’s own career was blighted by injuries and thinks after such a long lay-off Meades is bound to encounter issues as he gets back up to speed.
He said: “Meadesy’s having all sorts of little problems because of last season, which is natural.
“I did have five minutes with him this week and he’s going to have niggles probably up until his body gets used to the contact.”
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