Andy Whing will make his first start of the season tomorrow as Oxford United turn to their senior players for the visit of Accrington Stanley.
A groin injury has limited the 28-year-old to just two substitute appearances so far this season.
U’s boss Chris Wilder singled out Whing in the aftermath of Monday’s 3-0 defeat at Port Vale as a key player they have missed in a hugely disappointing start to the campaign.
Last season’s supporters’ player of the year will be thrown in tomorrow in a bid to add some steel to a side which has leaked goals in a run of seven defeats from their last nine games.
Whing is flattered by the praise, but insists the only way United can turn things round is by making a collective improvement.
He said: “I’m not going to shout and bawl at people, we’ve got to do it together. One player can’t do it on his own.
“It’s been a tough week mentally and physically, but we’re going to learn from our mistakes and I think all the lads will show a bit of character against Accrington.
“The only pressure I feel is what I put on myself. It’s nice for the gaffer to say that, but I think there’s a lot of characters – not just me.
“The younger players have had a bit of experience now and know what it’s like.
“In this division you’ve got to learn quickly from games like the other night.”
Whing made his return in the 4-2 win at Cheltenham Town in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy earlier this month.
He played the final half-hour, but it is unclear whether his physical condition has improved sufficiently to make it through 90 minutes.
Whing said: “There’s no point in me playing at 50 per cent, so I can get through 90 minutes.
“I just have to play as I normally do and if it only lasts 60 or 70 minutes then I’ll come off.
“I still think I’m a bit away (from full fitness).
“I was only pencilled in to be in the squad this week so I’m a fortnight ahead of schedule.
“We’ll see how it goes.”
The game comes at the end of a long week of soul searching for the U’s squad, as they attempt to correct the flaws exposed at Port Vale.
Whing said: “Behind closed doors we’ve had meeting after meeting and watched the video a couple of times.
“We’ve gone through what we need to do better, so we’re looking to implement what we’ve done this week in the game on Saturday.”