KARL Robinson has embraced Oxford United’s history since becoming manager, but he will urge his players to focus on the present tomorrow.

The U’s host Swindon Town in the arch-rivals’ first meeting since February 2017.

United’s first concern will be that the rearranged game goes ahead, after the fixture was postponed from its original date of October 24 due to coronavirus cases in the visitors’ ranks.

Providing all goes to plan off the pitch, Robinson knows fans will be desperate to continue a proud record against the Wiltshire side.

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The U’s have won seven times since their rivals last tasted a derby victory in 2001, including five victories at the Kassam Stadium.

But with United 18th in Sky Bet League One and only ahead of Swindon on goal difference, the head coach is expecting a tough test.

He said: “If you get caught up in where you’ve been before, you forget where you are today.

“All we want is to put another digit on that, but there’ll be a time when that’s broken.

“We’ve got to win this game for the right reasons.

“It’s not for me to get involved with past games or past moments, it’s about the present and it’s going to be very difficult this weekend.”

Until the turn of the century, United’s record against their rivals was not pretty.

The U’s had won just nine of the 52 meetings between the sides, but their 1-0 FA Cup second round derby victory in December 2002 turned the tide.

Since then, there has been plenty to cheer for United, with a 0-0 Checkatrade Trophy draw in October 2016 the one blot on their copybook.

U’s fans sing about ‘seven in a row’, but Robinson has avoided raising the stakes ahead of tomorrow’s match.

The 40-year-old has not taken charge of United against Swindon, but was involved in one of English football’s newer but more heated rivalries as MK Dons boss, against AFC Wimbledon.

He said: “Every club has their local derby and this is one that’s been around for a long time.

“People in the area understand and believe in it.

“I’m not one of those people that gets involved in the talk because the talking with your feet is the most important aspect.

“That’s got to be our message – keep your mouth shut and when the whistle goes that’s when the gloves come off.”

Although Robinson will drum home to his players the importance of keeping a cool head, United’s squad know how much tomorrow means.

With four Oxfordshire-born players likely to feature – Matty Taylor, Josh Ruffels, Sam Long and Jordan Obita – there has already been plenty of talk about the rivalry.

Marcus McGuane is one of the newer players in the group, but revealed it was not long before he was told which game to watch out for.

“A lot of my Twitter feed has been fans talking about previous games, so that’s how I’ve seen it,” the midfielder said.

“The gaffer told me pretty soon one of the big games of the season is Swindon.

“I can tell from the fans that this is big, so I’m looking forward to it.”