Chris Wilder says he is happy to provide medical evidence if Oxford United break Johnstone’s Paint Trophy rules tonight because of the number of injuries which have ravaged the squad.
Under competition rules, teams have to include six players who started the previous game, or six first-team regulars from the season to date.
It is designed to prevent clubs fielding weakened sides, but in United’s case at Cheltenham Town they have no choice – with potentially only a dozen fully fit outfield players available for selection for the Southern Section second-round tie.
Damian Batt and Deane Smalley both suffered groin injuries in Saturday’s 0-0 draw with Gillingham, increasing the injured list to nine.
Alfie Potter faces a late fitness test, while new signing Johnny Mullins is cup-tied.
The absences could bring the U’s very close to breaking the rules, but Wilder insists there is nothing he can do.
The United boss said: “It’s not a case of us resting players, we’re just picking a side which is available to us.
“Hopefully, it will still be in the rules of the competition, but if people want a doctor’s note I can give them a medical report straight away, because there’s no way we’ll pick players who are injured and unfit.
“I’ve got 12 outfield players, plus Alfie, who might not be able to start, but could be fit enough to be on the bench.”
Daniel Boateng, who started in United’s first-round victory over Swindon Town, is expected to replace Batt at right back, while up front, James Constable could make only his second start in eight games.
Harry Worley is favourite to replace Mullins after overcoming a lengthy ankle injury.
He said: “I’m hoping to play and prove my fitness. We’ll soon find out if I can get through 90 minutes.”
Teenage striker Tyrone Marsh, who has only made two brief substitute appearances for the first team, will also feature at some stage.
Wilder said: “It’s good for him because he’s done well and in the glimpses we saw at Leeds, he was excellent.
“We think quite a lot of him, he’s done great and hopefully this is a little window for him to show what he’s about.
“There’s always a chance to gain something, whatever team we put out, it won’t be a mis-match.
“If we get a result and go through I’ll be delighted, as long as everybody comes through unscathed.”
Cheltenham are expected to have the luxury of resting several players.
Cheltenham Tn: from Brown, Jones, Lowe, Hooman, Jombati, Pack, Deering, McGlashan, Mohamed, Zebroski, Duffy, Harrad, Roberts, Goulding, Elliott, Penn, Carter.
Oxford Utd: from Clarke, Boateng, Worley, Wright, O’Brien, Chapman, Heslop, Forster-Caskey, Rigg, Craddock, Constable, Potter, Capaldi, Leven, Marsh, Crocombe, Lynn.