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Tough decisions for Neal ahead of Oxford

Interview on iFollow with our manager

5 October 2017

Neal Ardley said that he has a difficult task to select the right team for Oxford on Saturday with players having pushed their claims during the Checkatrade Trophy win on Tuesday night.

"I have got some decisions to make," Neal told our iFollow channel. "I've watched the game back now and we were probably even better than I thought on the night. I'm really happy with that, but we will look at how the boys have trained as well, and we will try to pick the best team to win on Saturday.

"We look at these games (Checkatrade Trophy matches) as a chance for players coming back from injury, but we also earmark them for players who are not in the team, so that they can stake a claim. One or two have certainly said, whether it's on Saturday or not, 'if you are ready to put me in, I'm ready to go' and that's good for us.

"We've got good competition for places. George Francomb has played at left-back to do us a favour at first, but he has been excellent. He has been a part of a really solid back four and he has not done a hell of a lot wrong. Now we've got Callum Kennedy back and Jon Meades is back in training. All of a sudden there is good competition now and George is probably thinking, 'how am I going to get back in the midfield'. Tom Soares has come in and done well and so too has young Anthony. Liam Trotter has got better with every game and he has been excellent."

Neal added that Harry Forrester returned to training today, but he has been struggling with illness. Though Jon Meades is back in training, Saturday's match is likely to come too soon for him to face his old club.

Dean Parrett's winner on Tuesday night rounded off a return to goal-scoring form for the Dons and Neal said a lot of work had been put in to get the team scoring regularly.

"Dean has come in and given us that little bit of his ability to run with the ball, but he has also done the work for the team as well. We are trying to get everybody to contribute to our attacking play. Dean scored the other day by making a run into an area in the box where there was a chance of scoring a goal. We've been working hard on that and we will keep doing it. The players need that desire to get in there. If we keep getting into good positions and creating chances, it will come."

A more in-depth preview of the Oxford game will follow on the official website tomorrow.

Our iFollow channel features Neal's full interview with Rob Cornell posing the questions.

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