KARL Robinson warned he may not risk some Oxford United players on Oxford City’s artificial pitch this evening.

The U’s face their neighbours in the annual pre-season curtain-raiser at Court Place Farm (6.30pm) after returning from their eight-day training camp in Spain yesterday.

United’s squad includes players who are working their way back to full fitness and Robinson suggested he will take a safety-first approach on City’s 3G pitch.

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The U’s head coach said: “It’s always nice, that first game.

“With it being the astroturf we’re trying to protect players, but we’re really looking forward to being back home.

“It’s been a long time since we’ve been able to play in front of the fans and we always enjoy that.

“Our holidays finished ten days ago and we’re really in the swing of what we’re trying to do.”

Robinson’s squad is expected to contain a mix of senior players and youngsters, with midfielder Ben Davis set to be involved after missing the trip to Spain to recover from his efforts for Thailand Under 23s earlier in the summer.

The clash at Court Place Farm will help both sides step up their preparations for the new season, with United’s opening-day trip to Derby County just four weeks away.

City’s first Vanarama National League South game is a week later, on August 6.

Home fans could see summer signing Andre Burley in blue and white for the first time following the centre back’s arrival on Wednesday.

The 22-year-old joins the eight members of last season’s squad to re-sign for City, with Josh Ashby and Canice Carroll in line to face their former club.

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U’s supporters have not seen their team in action since the final Sky Bet League One game of last season, against Doncaster Rovers on April 30.

City fans have not had to wait quite as long, with the National League South play-off semi-final defeat at Dorking Wanderers a fortnight later.

But co-owner and director of football Justin Merritt still expects there to be a feel-good atmosphere around Court Place Farm after the summer break.

He said: “If we can get 1,500 (fans) that would be a great achievement.

“It’s so early in pre-season, so neither of us will have signed our full squad.

“It’s a great opportunity for City and United fans, and those that support both.

“Hopefully it’ll be a sunny day and we can have a bit of a party atmosphere and everybody enjoys the football.

“We’re really looking forward to that, there’s a lot of work going on behind the scenes to make sure we’re prepared.”