WHEN Oxford United emerged from a frantic February, it felt like it would be some time before they encountered a schedule quite so packed again.

But just over six months on from squeezing nine games into 29 days, they have just started a run of 11 matches in five weeks.

The rearranged clash with Crewe Alexandra took the only blank Tuesday between now and mid-November – a run which will see the U’s pack in more than a fifth of their campaign.

It is a tough run which includes a derby, plus trips to fellow promotion hopefuls Peterborough United, Charlton Athletic and Fleetwood Town.

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Tomorrow’s visit to Gillingham will be another stern examination, but boss Karl Robinson has already been looking back to February for lessons to learn.

Flexibility featured prominently.

He said: “We’ve spoken about what we thought helped and what didn’t work.

“We’ve looked at travel, recovery, performance, rotation.

“We rotated a lot of our players, we made substitutions at certain times and our days off changed as well.”

He added: “I think time will be the answer for how much we mix things up.

“I could say we need a lot of rotation in certain areas to keep the players fresh, then all of a sudden you lose one or two and you can’t do that.”

The big message from the previous batch of games was to accept there will be setbacks.

A 4-0 defeat at Peterborough United was a pretty big hiccup, but they bounced back three days later to grab a stoppage-time equaliser at Burton Albion.

The month finished with four straight wins, part of a five-game

hot-streak which proved the difference when the season was brought to a halt prematurely by coronavirus and

play-off positions were being calculated.

Robinson is also fully embracing the less rational side of the game, although disappointingly the head coach declined to give any details.

He said: “I am quite superstitious and hopefully we can continue the same type of form which allowed us to win five games on the spin.

“For someone who is open in what he says, some of the things I do are so laughable it’s an embarrassment.”

While lockdown was only just around the corner in February, coronavirus was not a factor at that point.

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It is an added complication now, although United’s Priestfield preparations were helped by a batch of negative tests on Monday.

The club have deemed a planned second round of swabs, scheduled for yesterday, were not required.

Among those making the decision was new club doctor James Baldock.

Older brother to Sam and George, he worked with Robinson at Milton Keynes Dons.

The U’s boss said: “I’ve known him for a long time.

“He was quite happy with what happened at the weekend in relation to our side of it.

“There was not any contact with their players for more than 15 minutes inside.

“The only contact would have been outside, but after the first few minutes all of us had masks on – and we wore them in the correct way.”