Interim Manager Mark Robinson will be forced to make several changes to the squad for tonight’s Papa John’s Trophy match at Oxford United (7.00 pm kick-off).
George Dobson and Darnell Johnson are both ineligible for tonight’s quarter-final tie at the Kassam Stadium and Robbo will have to do without other first-teamers due to injuries. Alex Woodyard is ruled out due to the knee injury he picked up during the pre-match warm-up on Saturday and Nesta Guinness-Walker and Dan Csoka have picked up muscle injuries, though neither are serious. Ollie Palmer and Ben Heneghan are making good progress after injuries, but they are not yet ready to be pitched back into the squad.
After taking advice from our medical team, Robbo has decided not to take any gambles on the fitness of several players, particularly with vital League One points up for grabs at Wigan on Saturday.
“We can’t play George Dobson or DJ because they are cup tied,” said Robbo. “We also have injuries and because of the amount of games we’ve played there are four or five players who are on limited minutes, but I’ve spoken to the boys and they want to play. The last thing I wanted to do coming from an academy background was to play all our young players. I know that people’s perspective would be, ‘he is just going to give the young players a chance’. It is needs must due to injuries and we will therefore have a very young substitutes’ bench with opportunities given to other players.
“We have another game coming up on Saturday and I’ve had to listen to our physio Tim and Chris (McConnell, Sports Scientist). They said there are risks of players breaking down and we could lose them for weeks. It’s not me making excuses, it’s just a fact, and we had a really good session after the meetings (on Monday). We are going to have a right good go.”
The Dons are just two rounds away from a potential Wembley final, and Robbo wants his squad to really believe that they can win at the Kassam Stadium tonight.
“You’ve got to do detail on the opposition, but I want it to be 80 per cent about us, and 20 per cent about the opposition," added Robbo. "If you are talking about the opposition a lot I don’t think that helps with self-belief. I want there to be plenty of talking about us in the building and what we are going to do. You can’t be naïve and you have to recognise their threats. We do work on that, but I want that work to be minimal compared to what we are going to do, so that we can implement ourselves on the game and we can grow our identity. We want the opposition to start thinking a hell of a lot more about us.”
A live stream of tonight’s match can be accessed on our iFollow channel, for the price of £10. Mikey T and Rob Cornell will be commentating live from the Kassam Stadium.
For those that missed it, you can watch Robbo's full interview ahead of Oxford by clicking on the link below.