KARL Robinson says Oxford United’s squad cannot wait to be greeted by hundreds of supporters for their first pre-season match tonight.

The U’s have spent more than a week in Ireland doing intense fitness work in readiness for the new campaign.

They have only met a handful of supporters on their training camp, but their preparation now takes on a different element, with a host of games coming up – including three in three days to finish their tour.

United will take on Portmarnock AFC this evening in a match that has been moved to Shelbourne FC’s Tolka Park ground because of concerns over the original pitch.

Up to 500 supporters are expected to travel over for the games, and the U’s manager says having them there will give everyone a big boost.

Those present tonight have been urged to stay and have a drink with the staff and players after the game – as well as the obligatory pre-season group picture – and Robinson is determined to ensure everybody is looked after.

“I really want to get that connection with the fans,” he said.

“A unified stance on who we are.

“I want the fans to say hello to the players, have interaction with them and know that they won’t get people with headphones on just walking past them.

“With football at this level, I think that’s a necessity.”

All the squad are due to feature in every game, and have been told in no uncertain terms what is expected of them.

After Portmarnock, United will face Longford Town tomorrow and UCD on Wednesday.

They then face a double-header back in England on Saturday, July 14 with matches at Oxford City (12.30) as well as Hampton & Richmond Borough (4).

And with games the following Tuesday and Wednesday, it is a busy schedule.

“The players will either have 45, 30, 60 and 75 minutes or 45, 60, 30 and 75,” United’s boss said.

“Everyone will get their game time, then we play on the Tuesday and Wednesday next week and each player will be given 90 minutes there.

“It will certainly not be easy for them.”

He added: “The Portmarnock game is literally getting used to the pitch size again.

“Longford are a good side and UCD I think I’ve lost 4-0 and 3-0 against them.

“They are all the best young players in Ireland and are going to get promoted this year, so you know they’re going to be very competitive.

“They’re in season, so they have players who are fit.

“It’s not like, with no disrespect, playing a non-league team here who are training once a week.

“These are players who train every day and are ready.”

l Follow live coverage on tonight’s game at oxfordmail.co.uk/sport