MATCH PREVIEW: Oxford United v Bristol Rovers

GasCast Match Previews by Simon Gray

Bristol Rovers head to in form Oxford United hoping to climb away from the relegation zone.

The Gas’ 3-2 loss at Crewe in midweek saw them edge closer to the bottom four, they now sit precariously looking over their shoulders with just two points separating them in 19th place and Swindon in 23rd.

Manager Paul Tisdale though has spoken of his belief that Rovers will be ‘absolutely fine’ come the end of the current campaign.

“I look at the table every day of the season, because I’m a professional person and that’s where the team is judged,” Tisdale told BristolLive.

“As a professional, of course, I look at it and understand where we are. As a manager of this team, I’m sure we’re going to be absolutely fine.

“I’ve been in situ for two months. The team is beginning to play with some of the fluency I expect and would want to see in the team.

“Tuesday night at Crewe gave me great heart for what I saw and the energy and bravery in the team to play in certain areas and be forward-thinking.

“I’m trying to put my own stamp on things of course, that’s what I’ve got to do and I’m by no means there yet and I’m still trying to find the best way to get the best out of the players we have at Bristol Rovers.

“I am of course aware of the league table, every game is vitally important no matter where you are in the table, but I’m more than confident, with the progress we’ve made already, with the players we have, with the feedback from the players, that we’re going to be absolutely fine and we’re going to move up the table over the next 20 plus games.”

Rovers will have new signing George Williams available for the match at the Kassam Stadium. Right back Williams joined this week from MK Dons for an undisclosed fee and may slot straight into the team in his natural position. This would mean a shakeup in the back four, with club captain Max Ehmer, who was deputising at right back, may switch to his more favoured role in central defence.

The Gas are likely to be without midfielder Ed Upson though, who limped off in the defeat to Crewe with what looked like a hamstring injury.

Tisdale also confirmed that attacking duo Sam Nicholson and Erhun Oztumer are close to returning to the side, however this weekend’s game may come a touch too soon for the pair.

Oxford will go into the game full of confidence after winning their last five games.

The U’s have also gone nine unbeaten in all competitions after a slow start to the season that left them more worried about the possibility of a relegation scrap rather than a play off push and midfielder Alex Gorrin has spoken of the early season challenges they faced.

“It took a bit of time, because you need to play together and get to know each other. We’re finally there and when you start winning games the confidence comes,” Gorrin told the OxfordMail.

“We have a very competitive team, as we did last year. We’ve got quality wide and up front and a great goalscorer in Matty Taylor.

“There were a lot of new faces, but I feel like we’re in a good place now. To achieve what we want, we need to keep going.

“Every game in this league is very hard, so we need to be on it and keep picking up points.”

Unlike Rovers who have faced a cluster of fixtures in a short space of time, Oxford have not played in over a week and manager Karl Robinson has a fully fit squad to choose from.

Having been in good form though, Robinson may opt to name the same side that beat Burton 5-1 in their last league game.

Lineup Predictions:

Oxford Predicted XI (4-3-3): Eastwood (GK), Long, Moore, Atkinson, Ruffels, McGuane, Gorrin, Forde, Henry, Taylor, Shodipo.

Score Predictions:

Max and Sam: Oxford 1-2 The Gas

Mets: Oxford 1-1 The Gas

Simon: Oxford 2-1 The Gas