Wright looking for Oxford United to boost play-off bid in front of television cameras

Banbury Cake: Jake Wright Jake Wright

JAKE Wright is looking for Oxford United to grasp another chance to improve their play-off prospects while damaging a rival as they visit Southend United tonight.

A run of six winless games was ended by a 1-0 victory at home to Hartlepool United on Friday.

The result left Pools as long shots to make the top seven, while improving the U’s own credentials.

Southend have been promotion challengers all season, but are on a torrid 12-match streak without a win.

It has seen them slip to ninth and Wright, pictured, is hoping United, who would climb to fourth with a win in front of the television cameras, can inflict more problems.

He said: “Friday was massive. If Hartlepool had beaten us, they would have been four behind and in a really strong position.

“It was important we beat them and it’s the same with Southend. There’s a six-point gap and we need to make sure that it’s either kept at that or stretched to nine.

“I don’t think a win would knock them out of the race, but I think we could make it a lot easier for ourselves.”

The game marks Gary Waddock’s first game in charge.

Although he watched the Hartlepool game, the lack of contact time with the players means selection will be influenced by assistant Mickey Lewis and first-team coach Andy Melville.

He said: “I’ll be relying on the pair of them heavily going into the game on Monday, because I’ve appeared from nowhere and seen the team play on a Friday.

“The first I saw of the players was Sunday, so I will have a chat with Mickey and Andy and see what we will do.”

Ryan Williams could remain in the squad after the calf problem which forced him off on Friday was revealed to be relatively minor, although Alfie Potter may be preferred on the right flank.

Centre back Michael Raynes is available after a suspension, but Tom Newey is still banned, while Johnny Mullins (ankle) and Dave Kitson (hamstring) are ruled out.

Southend drew 0-0 at Bristol Rovers on Friday, but are without striker Barry Corr, who is serving the second of a three-game ban.

TONIGHT’S SQUADS Oxford Utd: from Clarke, Bevans, Long, Wright, Hunt, Potter, Whing, Ruffels, Rigg, Constable, Connolly, Smalley, Williams, O’Dowda, Wroe, Davies, Raynes, Crocombe Southend Utd: from Bentley, White, Coker, Sokolik, Egan, Leonard, Timlin, Atkinson, Eastwood, Barnard, Hurst, Smith, Payne, Clifford, Loza, Prosser, Straker, Gomis.

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