SAM Long can match his best starting run for Oxford United tonight – but it will mean little to the defender if they do not get three points at Rochdale.

The 24-year-old has started the last three Sky Bet League One games, one short of his run at the end of the 2014/15 season.

Strong, no-nonsense performances have seen him keep the shirt and earn the right back a new one-year deal.

Long is determined to hang on to his place in the side, but despite playing well at Gillingham on Saturday the 1-0 defeat meant he took no satisfaction from it.

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He said: “Personally it’s been good, but it was very disappointing to not get a result.

“Winning on a Saturday is what you work all week for and when you don’t get it you don’t think about your performance, you’re upset about the result.

“When you’ve lost a game I don’t think about personal things at all.”

He added: “I’ve had to work hard, really hard.

“The gaffer has brought in a few right backs this season and has seen something in me.

“I appreciate the faith he’s had in me because they’re big games he’s put me in.

“I’d like to say I’ve repaid him with good performances.”

Tonight’s game at Spotland is another significant fixture, between two sides in Sky Bet League One’s relegation zone.

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Long said: “There’s pressure on us, but I think this season when there has been a lot of pressure on us we’ve risen to the occasion and done well.”

United boss Karl Robinson is expected to freshen up his starting XI, with Gavin Whyte, Marcus Browne and Cameron Brannagan candidates to step up from the bench.

Ahmed Kashi is in line for his first league start if John Mousinho fails to recover from a tight calf.

The U’s skipper did not train on Sunday or Monday, but was due to travel north with the squad today with the intention of being involved.

Dale have Manchester United loanee Ethan Hamilton available again after serving a suspension.


Rochdale: from Lonergan, McLaughlin, Nthle, McNulty, Ebanks-Landell, Bunney, MJ Williams, Camps, Rathbone, Inman, Henderson, Clough, Hamilton, Done, Andrew, Adshead, J Williams, Dooley, Wade.

Oxford Utd: from Eastwood, Long, Nelson, Dickie, Ruffels, Kashi, Brannagan, Henry, Whyte, Mackie, Browne, Sinclair, Smith, Graham, Mousinho, Carruthers, Garbutt, Hanson, Stevens.