ROB Dickie says Oxford United’s promotion ambitions mean they will be expecting to beat Southend United this afternoon.

Karl Robinson’s side are 21 points and 15 places better off in the Sky Bet League One table than the Shrimpers, who are enduring a nightmare campaign.

Their last home league win came on the final day of last season, when they avoided relegation on goal difference.

Staying up looks a tall order this time around, while United are looking in the opposite direction.

However, the travelling fans will be well aware of their side’s awful recent record at Roots Hall, where the U’s last away league success was ten games ago, in 2003.

CLASSIC CLASH: John Durnin helps Oxford United to victory

Dickie is not taking Southend lightly, but knows this is precisely the sort of game in which a promotion contender should prevail.

“Definitely, but we’ll always respect our opposition,” he said.

“We expect a tough game at Southend.

“I clearly remember last year under very difficult conditions and came away with a 0-0 which ended a bad run for us.

“It shows how far we’ve come in a year that we’re going there this time expecting to win.

“It’s not that we don’t respect them or don’t feel they’re a good side, but we feel like we should win.”

He added: “We’re targeting promotion, of course we are.

“We feel like we’re one of the strongest sides in the division, but it’s no good us just thinking that, we have to go and prove it every week.”

Like United, Southend have had a long time to build up to the game after last weekend’s fixture was postponed.

READ MORE: Ones to watch

It will have been a chance for Sol Campbell to spend an extended period working with his side since taking over last month.

Dickie said: “They will have had a full week’s training which will have given him time to implement his style.

“I think it will be a hard game, especially at their ground, which has always been a difficult place to go.

“They’ve not got too much to lose in terms of their recent form.

“It can only get better for them and we just hope we’re not the team where it does get better for them.”

United still have five players in the treatment room, but Southend have even bigger issues.

They have as many as 11 unavailable, including top-scorer Steven Humphrys (thigh).


Southend Utd: from Bishop, Bwomono, Ralph, Milligan, Dieng, Hutchinson, Hopper, Cox, Goodship, Rush, Acauah, Ndukwu, McLaughlin, Hamilton, Taylor, Demetriou, Howard, Kiernan, Oxley.

Oxford Utd: from Eastwood, Cadden, Dickie, Mousinho, Ruffels, Gorrin, Henry, Baptiste, Forde, Taylor, Fosu, Agyei, Hall, Sykes, Moore, Long, Jones, Stevens.