LIAM Sercombe says it is psychologically important that Oxford United will not drop out of the automatic promotion places while they are at Wembley this weekend.

Back-to-back draws over Easter opened the door for the chasing pack to make up ground in Sky Bet League Two.

And with United not in league action this weekend due to the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy final, they were vulnerable to being overtaken by rivals.

But their stay in the top three, which is nearing six months, will continue after Bristol Rovers lost at Carlisle United.

While a win for Plymouth Argyle in the Devon derby at Exeter City would demote the U’s to third, their superior goal difference will keep them ahead of fourth-placed Accrington Stanley, barring a bizarre scoreline.

Midfielder Sercombe knows there is a lot of work for the U’s still to do in the final six games of the league season, but thinks staying in the top three this weekend will give them a boost.

He said: “It’s what the manager wanted, going into Wembley – we didn’t want other teams to be able to get us out of the automatic promotion places.

“It’s a big thing for us.

“Now we can go into that game and enjoy it even more, knowing we can’t come out of the top three.”

He added: “The pressure is on the other teams at the weekend, they are going to be desperate to win knowing that we’re not playing.

“We’ll enjoy the week and get right back into the league after that.

“We want this game at Wembley out the way now so we can concentrate on what we really do want.”

United brought forward their game from this weekend in a bid to avoid playing catch-up on the rest of the promotion contenders next month.

It looks a good decision now, with their 4-0 win against Dagenham & Redbridge keeping Michael Appleton’s men in control of their own destiny.

Despite seeing their advantage over the chasers whittled away over Easter, United are still on track to reach their goal.

Sercombe said: “We have a points target set for us and we’re right on course for that, so we’ve just got to keep going.

“Not all teams are going to win every week, they will all drop points and it’s always going to go up and down.

“As long as we hit our target that’s all we can do.”