ANDY Whing says it is time for Oxford United to show their promotion credentials as he eyes a “pivotal” win at leaders Chesterfield tomorrow.

The U’s are in their worst run of the season, which was extended to five winless games by a 1-1 draw at home to Cheltenham Town on Tuesday night.

It has seen them slip from third to sixth in Sky Bet League Two, but with most of the top sides also struggling, the automatic promotion places are not yet out of range.

Whing returned to the squad as an unused substitute in midweek after four months out with a groin injury.

The midfielder, who was sent off when Chesterfield won 1-0 at the Kassam Stadium in September, insists a victory tomorrow would reignite United’s season.

He said: “Mulls (Johnny Mullins) said last week we need to win a big game to set us up and this is a perfect opportunity to do that.

“We need to show everyone we mean business.

“Saturday could be a pivotal moment if we went there and won against a big team.

“We would get a lot of confidence from that. We think we can go there and win.

“We’re looking to get a big scalp and go on from there.”

United’s poor run has brought their search for a permanent manager into sharper focus.

Mickey Lewis has been in caretaker charge since the end of January and Whing stressed the players were motivated to reward his hard work with results.

He said: “We just feel we need to win a game for Mickey and what better way by doing it on Saturday?

“He’s always first in and last out and has been absolutely brilliant for years.

“We’re desperate to repay Mickey, Mel (Andy Melville) and all the coaching staff who work their socks off.

“They set us up to go out on a Saturday and we don’t want to let them down.”

Whing’s return is very welcome, bringing experience and steel to United’s options for central midfield.

A lack of match fitness means he will have to make do with a place on the bench at Chesterfield, but the 29-year-old is confident persistent injury problems have been corrected.

He said: “My left groin is as strong as anything. It’s pretty much been nailed back on to the bone.

“I’ve obviously got to bide my time and wait for my chance. I’m hoping to give Mickey and Mel a headache.”