ROB Dickie says Oxford United’s players fear the prospect of relegation and are determined to climb out of trouble sooner rather than later.

The U’s host Bradford City this afternoon in a crucial battle towards the bottom of the table.

Karl Robinson’s side have been unable to truly escape the clutches of the Sky Bet League One relegation zone all season.

After taking just one point from vital clashes at Gillingham and Rochdale over the last week, the pressure is increasing with nine games remaining.

Only goal difference is keeping United in the relegation zone but, after several false dawns, Dickie admits the fear of playing League Two football next season is a huge concern in the dressing room

“Yeah, for sure (it is on our minds), definitely,” said the centre back.

“None of us think we will go down, but none of us want to go down.

“It affects our lives and it affects this football club and the fans that have been loyal for so many years – no-one wants that.”

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Bradford’s need for a victory is greater than United’s as they sit 23rd and four points from safety.

But a win could see the U’s climb as high as 17th if other results go their way.

They are only five points behind 12th-placed Plymouth Argyle and Dickie stressed the need to begin a quick ascent away from trouble.

He said: “The table is crazy, it’s ridiculous.

“You look at the likes of Southend, they were 12th not long ago and now they’re 18th, and Gillingham went all the way up to 13th after they beat us.

“It just shows if you get a win you are near the top half, so we just need to pull together and not let it go down to the wire.

“I feel as if we’ve got a squad that is definitely good enough to stay in League One, we shouldn’t be where we are, but we have to grind it out.”

Also read: U's players need help for Bradford clash, says boss Robinson

The 23-year-old added: “These are the matches where you learn a lot about yourself and your teammates.

“It’s a big game at the wrong end of the table and it’s a big game that you need to come out on top of.”