THE success or failure of Oxford United’s entire season rests on results over the next two months, according to manager Chris Wilder.
After topping the table in August, the U’s have picked up just four points from their last nine games in npower League Two.
It leaves them in 19th place ahead of today’s visit of Accrington Stanley – closer to the relegation zone than the play-off positions.
As it stands United are only six points away from the top seven, but Wilder knows it will not stay that way for long if his side continue to struggle.
The U’s boss is still hamstrung by a host of injuries, but stressed the importance of staying in contention over a crucial next few weeks.
He said: “While it’s early and there’s 30-odd games to go, we need to start affecting the league position.
“We’re coming to a period in the next two months which will define where our season goes.
“We have to stick in there. I’m not saying we’re going to win the next five or six.
“But we need to pick up more wins than losses if we’re going to have a positive season, regardless of what’s happening with players we can’t select.”
Wilder will turn to his senior players today as he looks for consistency after Monday’s sobering 3-0 defeat at Port Vale.
Andy Whing is set for his first start of the season, although it is unclear which role he will be asked to perform.
If Lee Cox is fit enough to start he will come into a holding midfield role, with Whing moving into a back four, who are without the suspended Jake Wright.
Michael Raynes and Jon-Paul Pittman are also expected to return to the squad after shaking off hamstring problems.
Peter Leven (knee) is a doubt, but Damian Batt is definitely out after confirming yesterday he will miss six weeks with a torn groin muscle.
Wilder watched Accrington lose 3-1 at Torquay United on Saturday in one of their worst displays of the season.
Paul Cook’s side remain dangerous, though, and have won at Southend and Cheltenham already this term.
Oxford Utd: from Clarke, Mullins, Worley, Capaldi, O’Brien, Chapman, Whing, Forster-Caskey, Potter, Craddock, Rigg, Constable, Leven, Raynes, Heslop, Pittman, Boateng, Marsh, Crocombe.
Accrington: from Dunbavin, Winnard, Murphy, Atkinson, Liddle, Schofield, Joyce, Mingoia, Boco, Sampson, Amond, Sheppard, Dawber, Hatfield, Chippendale, Miller, Dixon, Lindfield.