DES Buckingham says each member of his Oxford United squad will be given an equal opportunity to prove themself after he became head coach.

The 38-year-old is set to take charge of the U’s for the first time this weekend when the side make the trip to Cheltenham Town.

United sit second in Sky Bet League One after a strong start to the season under Liam Manning, with that work continued under caretaker boss Craig Short, who oversaw the 3-2 win at Leyton Orient before the international break.

While those who played key roles in the impressive first third of the campaign are set to be trusted by Buckingham this weekend, the former Mumbai City head coach has said chances will be given to those who have been on the periphery.

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Summer signing Jordan Thorniley has played just eight times this season, with only three of those games coming in the league, while defensive colleague Stephan Negru came on as a substitute at Orient for his first league appearance since the beginning of September.

Meanwhile, Oisin Smyth has managed just five games in all competitions, while Leeds United loanee Sonny Perkins has only made six appearances since joining at the end of August.

Buckingham said: “The players that have been playing have played extremely well and have got the team into the position we’re in, but I’ve got no history with those players that haven’t been playing.

“Whatever reason they haven’t had game time, that doesn’t count with me.

“I think you come in and give everyone an equal opportunity as much as you can, but you must also recognise the ones that have got this team in this space.

“The pleasing thing is the amount of games that are coming up means that same team cannot continue to play every single game.

“There will be opportunities, whether that comes through performances of players or due to recovery of others. They’ll get their time, and they’ll get their chance.”

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On picking his first ever U’s side, Buckingham said: “It’s a nice headache to have when you look at the squad that’s here and been assembled in the last six months.

“There are really exciting players. I was speaking to Marcus Browne, and we said how good it is we’ve got at least two players for most positions, so whether you start them or have to bring them on, the team can stay at a certain level all the time.

“That’s going to be so important come Saturday, but also as we look forward over the next five or six weeks.”

He added: “When there’s been a period of time off, there can be a lot of energy on show for that first game back, but it’s about making sure you stay in control and remain calm.

“This group are very clear on what they want to do, and we must make sure we stick to that, regardless of the state of the game.”