FABIO Lopes is aiming to keep the hammer down if he features for a fifth game in less than a week as Oxford United’s gruelling start to pre-season steps up another notch today.

Vanarama National League side Woking host Karl Robinson’s men, who will kick-off their Sky Bet League One campaign in three weeks’ time.

While the wait for reinforcements goes on, there have been plenty of opportunities for the squad’s younger players to stake a claim.

Lopes has featured in all four games so far and produced a quality finish to score in the 2-1 win at Brackley Town on Thursday.

Having endured a frustrating stop-start season after bursting on to the scene as a 16-year-old 12 months ago, he is on a mission to force his way into Robinson’s plans.

“My goal right now is to stay with the first team – train with them and get minutes. It’s a big year,” Lopes said.

“I’m happy. Pre-season training in Portugal went very well.

“The legs are hurting but I’m ready to play again, it’s what makes me happy.”

Robinson was cautiously optimistic a signing which has been on the verge of completion for several days would go through before the game, but they are unlikely to feature today.

Rob Hall (knee), Tariqe Fosu (hamstring) and Rob Dickie (thigh) will all be assessed after collecting minor niggles.

The only player who will definitely miss out is Jamie Mackie.

While it was thought he would feature late this week, United are taking no chances over the minor back issue.

Robinson said: “I don’t want to risk him.

“He’s our only striker right now, so for me to throw him out on to the pitch and make it a four or five-week injury would be suicidal with the season only three weeks away. We’ll be cautious with it for obvious reasons.”

On the prospect of new faces, the U’s boss revealed the landscape had shifted in the last few days.

He said: “There are a few other players who I thought were probably out of our league but have maybe come back in because they can see what we’re trying to build.

“It’s been quite an interesting 48 hours that I didn’t expect to occur. We’ve acted on them quite quickly, so we’ll see.”