• Thu. Apr 18th, 2024

Oxford United boss gives fitness update ahead of Shrewsbury Town


Mar 30, 2024

DES Buckingham has provided an extensive fitness update on his Oxford United squad as they prepare for their return to action following the international break.

Defensive trio Ciaron Brown, Greg Leigh and Fin Stevens have all been away with their countries, while there was some mild concern for Leigh when he was substituted with cramp as Jamaica claimed third place at the Concacaf Nations League.

Leigh was able to walk off in the 90th minute against Panama, and has returned to United safe and sound ahead of the trip to Shrewsbury Town this afternoon.

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U’s head coach Buckingham said: “They’re all back and fit. Greg was the last one to return back and he arrived on Wednesday afternoon after a bit of a delayed flight.

“He got some good sleep and trained fully with us, and travels with the squad.

“Ciaron Brown went away with Northern Ireland, and he’s come back fine. Fin Stevens only played the first of the two games in the window, so he’s been back in since Monday.”

Buckingham also revealed that United welcomed a Southampton side to the U’s training ground last week, with the Saints team overseen by former United star Chris Allen, who is the Southampton Under-21s assistant coach.

“We played a friendly against Southampton and Chrissy Allen brought a Southampton side up, and it was good to see him back here,” said Buckingham.

“We played them here at the training ground, which allowed us to reintegrate some of the injured players, like Marcus Browne.

“It allowed us to get 45 minutes into him. He did extremely well and scored, which people will be pleased to hear.

“It also allowed us to get minutes into other players, whether that be ones that have come off the bench or squad players that haven’t featured as much.”

Buckingham added: “Tyler’s [Goodrham] another one that played 45 minutes in that Southampton game, so it served a good purpose for what we want.

“He’s fully fit and available for selection, and with two games back-to-back on Friday and Monday, having those players available, whether it’s to start or come on in either of those two games, is something we’re going to need.”

Meanwhile, Sunderland midfielder Jay Matete has returned to his parent club after sustaining a knee injury which has ruled him out for the rest of the season.

Buckingham said: “We’ve seen the calibre of player that he is, and we felt he could contribute heavily towards what we all wanted to achieve this year, which was putting ourselves in the play-off positions.

“It’s very disappointing for everyone involved, but it’s an injury to a knee which needed attention.

“He took a knock in the game against Leyton Orient and tried over a two-week period to push through it.

“Unfortunately he wasn’t able to, and they scanned it properly, and it flagged up that there’s an issue that needed sorting.”