VICTORY in midweek was just the lift Oxford United needed to get them ready for Saturday’s derby, according to Sam Long.

Karl Robinson’s side were bottom of Sky Bet League One heading into Tuesday’s home game with Milton Keynes Dons.

But a 3-2 win steadied the ship and moved them out of the bottom four ahead of this weekend’s big clash against their rivals.

Long said: “It was so important to get a result, especially after the last couple of games where we’ve played well and not got the result.

“We knew coming into Tuesday the result was all we needed.

“We’re thankful we got that.

“We put our bodies on the line and did everything we could to keep that ball out of the net.

“As long as we do that I think we’ll pick up a lot of results.”

Saturday will be the first fixture between the sides since February 2017, although the absence of a sell-out crowd will make it unlike any of the previous 57 meetings.

Although Long has not played against the Robins in a league game at senior level, the defender – born and bred in Oxfordshire – knows all about the significance.

But the 25-year-old is confident the new recruits will be well aware of how much is at stake.

He said: “I think they will know in the lead-up to it.

“It’s another game, but it’s against our rivals and we’ll be doing everything to get a result.

“I’ve played in the derbies through the youth teams and even when you’re young you know what it means.

“I’ll be raring to go if I’m picked.

“It will definitely be a strange one without a crowd, but it’s something we’ve got to deal with.

“There will be a lot of fans who would love to be here and unfortunately they can’t.

“We know we’ve got to give our all for them.”

Long was a scorer in midweek, despite being left out of the starting XI.

An injury to Rob Atkinson opened the door for the versatile defender and he grasped it with both hands.

Robinson said: “I will have Sam Long at this club while I’m here.

“He makes mistakes, but doesn’t hide from them.

“He’s an Oxford United player through-and-through. For all the things I moan about with him I think he makes up for it in heart and desire.

“He’s a diamond.”