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Arsenal reserve keeper joins for United's last chance
Oxford United completed a signing from the Premier League before making one final bid for the play-offs this afternoon.
Damian Martinez joined from Arsenal yesterday to solve the U’s goalkeeping crisis.
The 19-year-old will be the fourth stopper to be used in five games, following Ryan Clarke and Wayne Brown’s injuries and a brief loan for Connor Ripley last weekend.
The equation for United is simple on the final day of the season – to claim the final npower League Two play-off place they must win away at Port Vale and hope Crewe Alexandra lose at home to Aldershot.
It is a scenario which sees Chris Wilder’s side, who have not won in their last six games, start the day as outsiders, but the U’s boss is in no mood to give up.
He said: “My belief is still big and until the final whistle goes at 4.50pm there’s all to play for – the biggest thing is we make sure we finish with a win.
“We’d have loved it to be in our hands, but it isn’t.
“It’s a situation which is our fault, bits and pieces have gone against us but we’ve not been good enough in terms of results over the last month.”
Wilder added: “We have worked very hard to get a quality keeper in.
“Initially, we were looking for someone with experience, but it is a very tough time of the year.
“Damian came with tremendous recommendations and we saw him play well on Wednesday for Arsenal reserves, so we have no hesitation in bringing him into the squad.”
There will be at least one change to the starting line-up from last Saturday’s 2-0 defeat against Southend.
Ripley will be replaced by Martinez for what will be the 19-year-old’s senior debut, although the highly-rated goalkeeper was selected in Argentina’s senior squad last summer.
Oli, Johnson, Peter Leven and James Constable all face late fitness tests after missing out last weekend.
By a quirk of fate, the hosts’ line-up is likely to include Joe Davis, son of Crewe manager Steve Davis, whose side stand in United’s way for the final play-off place.
Wilder insists he will not keep tabs on the scoreline at Gresty Road, because it will not affect what United need to achieve in their game against Vale.
He said: “Our aim is to win and hope something might go our way, because it certainly hasn’t over the last month.
“We’d want to be in Crewe’s situation, but Aldershot will be dangerous opponents.”
Port Vale: from Martin, Yates, McCombe, Davis, Loft, Dodds, Griffith, Shuker, Rigg, Richards, Pope, McDonald, Williamson, Marshall, Morsy, James, Roe, Tomlinson.
Oxford Utd: from Martinez, Batt, Duberry, Wright, Davis, Chapman, Whing, Hall, Pittman, Rendell, Morgan, Crocombe, Leven, Heslop, Montano, Constable, Johnson.