SIMON Eastwood cannot wait for the buzz of a big-game atmosphere at the Kassam Stadium this afternoon when Oxford United host Portsmouth.

The visitors’ 1,800 tickets were snapped up in a matter of hours and the attendance is likely to approach treble the 3,179 who watched United’s Carabao Cup defeat to Cheltenham Town in midweek.

It is a fixture to relish especially for Eastwood, who resurrected his career at Pompey in the 2012/13 campaign, and the goalkeeper believes the packed away section will help bring the best out of United.

He said: “It definitely helps. We had a couple last season with the Newcastle game and Swindon.

“It’s a lot easier to play in front of a near full house rather than the other night when there were a couple of thousand there.

“Maybe it shouldn’t, but it does. You have more of a buzz.

“It’s a game I’m looking forward to personally.

“Wherever you go with Portsmouth as a club, they bring the atmosphere to the ground, so it will be a great day.

“I’ve got nothing but good words to say about Portsmouth for everything they did for me.

“They gave me another chance to get my career up and running.”

Kane Hemmings is back in the frame for selection today after returning to training this week.

The striker missed the end of pre-season and United’s opening two games due to a thigh problem, but is now in manager Pep Clotet’s thoughts for the squad to face Portsmouth.

He said: “Kane’s been training all week and we had a good chat.

“I said where I thought he was at (physically) and he told me the same. He feels ready.

“I want to be as cautious as I can with him, but he should be at our disposal.”

United’s overseas signings are still being given time to settle in.

But the likes of Mike Williamson and Jack Payne are expected to return to the starting line-up after being named on the bench against Cheltenham.

Pompey are hampered defensively, with former U’s loanee Tareiq Holmes-Dennis, Nathan Thompson and Matt Clarke out injured.

Jamal Lowe, sent off in the 2-0 opening-day win against Rochdale, is suspended.


Oxford Utd: from Eastwood, Ribeiro, Nelson, Williamson, Johnson, Henry, Ledson, Ruffels, Rothwell, Payne, Thomas, Obika, Hemmings, Hall, Napa, Xemi, Carroll, Martin, Shearer.

Portsmouth: from McGee, Talbot, Whatmough, Burgess, Haunstrup, Rose, Baker, Evans, Bennett, Pitman, Chaplin, Kabamba, May, Naismith, Main, Close, Davies, Bass.