GIVEN Oxford United’s position in Sky Bet League One’s top four, there is a school of thought that a cup run can become an unwelcome distraction.

Karl Robinson is doing his best to disprove that theory – by attempting to go deep in three separate knockout tournaments.

Sunday’s trip to Hayes & Yeading United is the start of what is hoped will be a successful campaign in the Emirates FA Cup.

It is part of a fortnight where the U’s play four games in four competitions.

Having already reached the Carabao Cup quarter-finals, they have qualified for the next round of the Trophy before Tuesday’s final group game at Crawley Town.

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With all that already on the plate of a squad stretched by injuries, surely they cannot compete successfully on four fronts?

“The players think they can,” Robinson says.

“In the next six weeks there are so many games coming up, on all fronts.

“There’s the Carabao Cup, the second round of the Trophy, the league which is the bread and butter and the FA Cup second round.

“So if we go through on Sunday then in December we will be playing in four different competitions.

“That’s why it’s so important to win (this weekend), because I don’t think many managers or groups of players at Oxford United could say that.

“It would be a tremendous place to be, but there’s one little worry which is we have to get past a very difficult game on Sunday.”

United will have to use the full extent of their squad to handle two matches in three days.

With the Hayes game moved to Sunday for television coverage, there is little turnaround time before the trip to Crawley.

Robinson intends to name a strong line-up for the first game, but those named on the bench at Beaconsfield Road are likely to feature on Tuesday.

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And the head coach believes the number of games have helped keep those on the fringes sharp and focused, in turn making it easier for them to perform while others drop out with knocks.

He said: “I think when you have a good squad like this it’s a great way for the manager to keep the team motivated, because it gives them a purpose.”

The U’s boss also put forward another reason why the squad have so far been able to cope.

Last week marked a year since Chris Short was brought in to head up the sports science department.

Robinson hailed it as a big signing at the time and sticks by that statement now.

He said: “I want to say a massive thank you to him.

“He’s got a young daughter and a wife up in York, but he’s someone who has dedicated himself, short-term, to Oxford United.

“It takes him four and a half hours to get home, all because he really cares for what we’re trying to achieve.

“I will be eternally grateful for the amount of work Shorty and his sports science team have put in.”