Michael Appleton will make a late call on his line-up, with a decision to be made on whether Callum O’Dowda is fit to start the crunch home clash with Carlisle United this afternoon.

The winger played 90 minutes for Republic of Ireland Under 21s in their 1-0 European Championship qualifier over Andorra in Waterford on Thursday night.

O’Dowda marked his first cap by landing the man-of-the-match award, but only arrived back in Oxford yesterday afternoon.

Appleton was planning on meeting the 19-year-old to assess whether he is ready to start, or if he would be better suited coming off the bench.

“We will wait as late as possible on Callum,” the U’s head coach said.

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“We tried to see if we could get him back earlier, but it just wasn’t possible because of where in Ireland the match was being played.

“So I will see him, have a chat and decide what is best.”

Fellow winger Alex MacDonald is suspended, but new signing Kyle Vassell will go straight into the squad.

James Roberts is pushing for a start, but Will Hoskins is still unlikely to feature – the striker is still carrying a knock.

“It doesn’t help with Alex suspended and a doubt over Callum, but it could mean there is an opportunity for someone else to come into the side and try and keep hold of the shirt,” Appleton added.

Today’s game is a crucial one foot at the Sky Bet League Two table, with both sides hovering above the relegation zone.

Oxford are six points ahead of one-from-bottom Cheltenham, with Carlisle one place and two points behind the U’s.

Today’s visitors are expected to include new loan signings David Atkinson and Jeffrey Monakana in their squad.

Defender Atkinson has joined from Middlesbrough and winger Monakana from Brighton.

Boss Keith Curle has no major new injury headaches, but Antony Sweeney (leg), Courtney Meppen-Walter (abdomen) and David Amoo (groin) remain doubtful, while Danny Kearns is pushing for a start.


Oxford Utd: from Clarke, Baldock, Mullins, Wright, Skarz, Roofe, Collins, Ruffels, O’Dowda, Hoban, Hylton, Roberts, Vassell, Rose, Long, Dunkley, Ashdown, Whing, Meades, Ashby.

Carlisle Utd: from Hanford, Young, Archibald-Henville, Grainger, Brough, Potts, Kennedy, Corry, Dempsey, Rigg, Wyke, Buddle, Paynter, Kearns, Thirlwell, Asamoah, Griffith, Gillespie, Atkinson, Monakana, O’Hanlon, Amoo.