ROB Dickie believes Oxford United have to beat AFC Wimbledon tonight to avoid slipping out of the play-off race.

Since winning the reverse fixture at the end of December, Karl Robinson’s side have collected just six points out of 24.

The U’s have a chance to make up ground on all their rivals tonight as the highest-ranked Sky Bet League One team in action.

And Dickie knows results, most recently a 1-0 defeat to Sunderland, have raised the stakes.

“We feel like it’s a must-win,” the centre back said.

“I think with each game that goes by where we don’t get three points the way the league’s going at the moment it really feels like it slips away from you.

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“Saturday felt pretty big and we thought we needed to win that and it puts that bit more emphasis on tonight.

“If we are going to be where we want to be, we need a win, but we know they will come fighting.

“We had a run earlier in the season where it felt like we were winning 3-0 at home every week.

“If we can get back to that kind of form, which I’m sure we can, it will give us a really interesting end to the season.”

One of the best elements of United’s encouraging display against Sunderland was Cameron Brannagan’s performance.

The influential midfielder has been struggling with pain even after recovering from a knee injury, but is optimistic it is now behind him.

He said: “It’s been frustrating because I’ve been wanting to do things I can’t, strike a ball and stuff like that, but I’m getting there.

“I felt a lot more comfortable on Saturday, so hopefully now I can take that into tonight.”

United’s form has not been helped by a squad stretched by injuries and a ban for Alex Gorrin.

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Dickie is only one caution away from his own two-game suspension, unless he can stay out of trouble for the next seven games.

He said: “I’ve gone eight games without a booking before, so I’ve got to do it again.

“To be honest a lot of my bookings have been a bit petulant. It’s not professional from me.

“Basically as long as I don’t talk to the referee I think I’ll be all right.”