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NO OXFORD COMPLACENCY FOR AWFORD

22 August 2014

Boss ready for tough test against Michael Appleton's side

Oxford have suffered a disappointing opening to the 2014/15 campaign.

Defeats to Burton, Mansfield and Morecambe mean they are currently pointless, sitting 21st in the embryonic League Two table.

Only a Capital One Cup triumph at Bristol City has provided any early-season joy for United.

But Andy Awford has warned against complacency ahead of Pompey’s trip to the Kassam Stadium this weekend.

And the Blues boss is looking forward to coming up against former Fratton boss Michael Appleton, who took charge of Oxford over the summer.

“He was very supportive of me when he was here and I was academy manager,” said Awford. “We got on very well and still do.

“They’ve obviously found things tough results-wise, but they’ve played very well in some of those games and are a good side.

“Sometimes scorelines can be a bit misleading at this stage and I still expect them to have a decent season.

“They like to play the right way – getting the ball down and passing it like us – and I know it’s going to be a tough test for us.

“I don’t want anyone thinking that it’s going to be an easy game just because they’ve lost three. There’s no chance of that.

“They’re a very good side, with some very good players and a very good manager.”

Awford has rotated his squad in Pompey’s first few matches and will continue that policy during a hectic run of fixtures.

He said: “Our strength in depth is there for everyone to see and there are still some players who haven’t featured.

“I’m really pleased with the squad we’ve got and it’s what you need at this time of the season because of the amount of games.

“Some people thought I was silly for making changes against Northampton on Tuesday night, but I thought it was other way round – I’d be silly not to.

“It’s a 46-game season plus cup matches. You can’t keep going Saturday, Tuesday, Saturday, Tuesday because it will break you.

“I’m fortunate enough to have a big enough squad to rotate and the performance doesn’t drop.”

Patrick Agyemang has returned to training for Pompey following a hamstring injury, but is not likely to feature at Oxford.

Alex Wynter (head), Danny East (groin), Tom Craddock (knee) and Wes Fogden (knee) are still sidelined, but Adam Webster is available for selection after serving a one-match suspension.

Pompey are 7/5 with Sky Bet to beat Oxford. Open an account at www.skybet.com/pompey for a chance to win £250,000 for the club and £5,000 for yourself.

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