CHRIS Wilder believes confidence levels in the Oxford United squad are returning to normal after going three games without defeat.

A 4-2 win at Cheltenham Town in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy last Tuesday came after a 0-0 draw against leaders Gillingham and a 3-2 victory over AFC Wimbledon.

It has transformed the mood after six straight league defeats last month as they prepare to visit high-flying Port Vale this evening.

Wilder is pleased with what he has seen from his players in the past fortnight and thinks the belief is returning.

The United manager said: “We’re not a million miles off (getting back to that point) because you see it in training – players are doing little things maybe they weren’t two or three games ago.

“I’ve said before with the way we play we have to be confident because we’re not a team that just isolates the game and smashes it.

“Maybe we do get affected more than anybody else if we lose a couple of games, because of the confidence aspect.

“But when you see things returning in training and games it’s encouraging.

“We should be feeling confident, we can go anywhere and get a result even though it’s a tough place to go.

“We’ve just got to keep hanging on in there, no prizes are handed out in October, but it’s important we use this little lift that we’ve had over the last week to keep moving forward.”

Wilder will go head-to-head on the touchline tonight with a familiar opponent.

Vale manager Micky Adams signed the U’s boss as a player during his time in charge at Brighton & Hove Albion.

There is plenty of respect between the pair, with Wilder full of praise for his opposite number for the way he handled Vale’s turbulent campaign last season, when financial problems saw them deducted ten points.

He said: “They were in a situation last year, but their manager, who I know well, pulled it all together. “When you lose ten points like that and the instability within the club it’s tough, but it’s a sign of the man that he just gets on with it and gets the best out of his team. “It’ll be a tough game, they’ve been fantastic away from home and have had a couple of decent results at home smashing Rotherham 6-2, but we’re more than capable if we play well. “They have good players, but so have we and hopefully we can go there and play well.”