9:30am Saturday 3rd May 2014
By David Pritchard
Gary Waddock has decided which players he wants to keep, but the team for Oxford United’s final game of the season at Northampton Town today will not contain any indications of his future plans.
Sweeping changes are expected this summer as the new head coach looks to improve a squad which has collapsed in recent weeks.
A run of ten defeats in their last 14 outings has seen United's promotion hopes disappear and Waddock has made it clear he is not afraid to make “big decisions” during the close season.
There had been some consideration about throwing in some younger players with a view to next season.
But with the Cobblers involved in a relegation battle and United on an awful run, Waddock’s priority is to put out the strongest side available, so warned that nothing could be read into his future plans from today’s selection.
He said: “Not at all, because I have to pick a team that’s going to win a football match regardless of players’ contract situations.
“I will pick what I believe is the best team to try and go and win.
“It wouldn’t be a problem to me if I put some younger players into it.
“But also bearing in mind the importance of the fixtures near the bottom, I’ve got to be professional and make what I feel is the right selection to go and win.
“I haven’t 100 per cent made up my mind, but I’m more looking towards the senior players.”
For those who do play at Sixfields, it will be their final opportunity, but with Waddock’s mind made up, even a starring performance could be too little, too late.
United's head coach said: “If somebody on Saturday turns up and does something incredibly well then great, but they’ve had a number of weeks and games to show me that already.”
Deane Smalley (calf) and Johnny Mullins (foot) are the only players unavailable for the visitors.
David Connolly has recovered from concussion sustained in the loss at Scunthorpe on Easter Monday.
He will provide competition up front with James Constable, who is among the group out of contract and still needs one goal to equal United’s all-time scoring record.
Chris Wilder, who left United to join Northampton in January, is likely to name the same side which won 3-0 at Dagenham a week ago.
The Cobblers need a point to stay up and will only be relegated if they lose to United and Wycombe win at Torquay.
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