MICHAEL Appleton plans to seek some last-minute advice from the biggest names in his contacts book ahead of Oxford United’s trip to Wembley.

The head coach has worked with some famous figures during his career and will look to them for any last tips as he prepares for tomorrow’s Johnstone’s Paint Trophy final against Barnsley.

Appleton’s first boss was Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United, while he worked with Roy Hodgson as a coach at West Bromwich Albion.

With Hodgson’s England side the last to use Wembley, for their friendly with the Netherlands on Tuesday, Appleton will gain some up-to-date information about conditions.

He said: “I will have a couple of conversations with Roy, just about things like the pace of the pitch and the environment itself.

“I might pick up the phone to one or two others.

“Definitely (Ferguson), he’s always answered and spent five or ten minutes having a chat about a few things.

“You want to keep things as normal as possible, but there might be one or two things I can say to players who aren’t going to feature that might help.

“A few of them are going to be so cheesed off, but that’s football.”

Appleton will tell the players who is in the starting line-up before training this morning.

Johnny Mullins (hip) and Joe Skarz (groin) are the main concerns and if both miss out, United may opt to recall teenage centre half Robbie Cundy from his loan at Gloucester City.

Callum O’Dowda and Jonjoe Kenny hope for recalls after missing the last two games on international duty.

Wembley finals are often cagey affairs, but despite being a league below Barnsley, Appleton will not look to keep the game tight.

He said: “We only know one way. Our motto for quite a long time has been the best form of defence is attack.”

Barnsley’s main concern is first-choice strike partnership Sam Winnall (hip) and Marley Watkins (calf).

The pair have 26 goals between them this season, but both are doubts, which would open the door for on-loan Ivan Toney and Ashley Fletcher.


Oxford Utd: from Buchel, Kenny, Dunkley, Wright, Skarz, MacDonald, Sercombe, Ruffels, Maguire, Roofe, Bowery, Waring, Hylton, O’Dowda, Giles, Ashby, Evans, Mullins, Long, Slocombe.

Barnsley: from Davies, Bree, Mawson, Roberts, Williams, Isgrove, Hourihane, Brownhill, Hamill, Winnall, Watkins, Toney, Fletcher, Tuton, Chapman, Khan, McCourt, White, Nyatanga, Connolly, Townsend.