JAKE Wright says Oxford United must play for their own pride even if the play-offs are beyond them to avoid a repeat of last season’s poor finish.
The U’s head to rock bottom Aldershot Town today looking for a first win in four games.
After conceding a last-minute equaliser to Morecambe on Good Friday, United have picked up just one point from their last three games to slip seven points adrift of the play-offs.
Wright stressed the squad will keep believing until it is impossible, but whatever happens the skipper knows how vital it is to finish the season strongly.
He said: “Obviously, we’re making it very difficult for ourselves, but while there’s points to play for we’ll keep going.
“It’s about self pride, doing things right for yourself and for the manager.”
Wright was part of the U’s side which ended last season on a seven-game winless streak and does not want to sign off on a low note again.
“It affects season ticket sales and fans’ morale, but if we can finish well, then you go into the summer on a little bit of a high,” he said.
“I don’t want to be moping around for the first couple of weeks of the summer because we’ve finished really poorly.”
Deane Smalley (hamstring) and Michael Duberry (illness) are both unlikely to return, so United could name the same XI for the third game in a row.
The one change could be on the bench, where back-up goalkeeper Wayne Brown could be replaced by Max Crocombe, who has returned from international duty with New Zealand.
It will be a tense atmosphere, with Aldershot, managed by former U’s player Andy Scott, four points from safety.
Wright said: “It will be tough – they’re fighting for survival.
“I think that will be good for us because they will come out and try to win the game.
“We’ve been brilliant away from home, including the Northampton game (a 1-0 defeat), and there’s no reason why we can’t go and get three points.”
The Shots line-up is likely to include three former United players in Asa Hall, Anthony Tonkin and Danny Rose.
TODAY’S SQUADS Aldershot: from Young, Herd, Tonkin, Morris, Forbes, Bradley, Vincenti, Hall, Rose, Reid, Goulding, Morris, Lancashire, Risser, Mekki, Cadogan, Roberts, McCallum, Worner.
Oxford Utd: from McCormick, Batt, Raynes, Wright, Davis, Potter, Whing, Davies, Rigg, Constable, Craddock, Pittman, Parker, Heslop, Worley, O’Brien, O’Dowda, Crocombe.