Bristol Rovers vs Oxford United Match Preview

By Simon Gray

Bristol Rovers head into Saturday’s game with Oxford with their two regular centre backs returning from international duty.

Both Tom Lockyer and Ryan Sweeney were away for the emphatic 6-0 away win over Northampton last time out but it is assumed both will come back into the starting XI when the Gas entertain the U’s on Saturday.

One player who will most likely miss the match is Rovers’ top scorer this season, Billy Bodin, who picked up an injury whilst scoring the first of the six at Sixfields but manager Darrell Clarke has not given an update on if/how long he will be out for.

When asked if he could give an assessment on Bodin’s injury by the Bristol Post, Clarke replied: “No.”

On Oxford, Clarke said: “They came up with us and had a few personnel changes along the way, a change of manager too.

“They finished near us last season and they’re thereabouts with us this season, we’re two clubs that are trying to push on.”

When asked about top six aspirations, Clarke replied: “I’ll be honest with you, I took the top six process out of my head pretty early.

“We didn’t have a great start to the season, certainly in the league campaign so we put that away and tried to build the building blocks to make sure we improve.”

As well as potentially being without Bodin, Rovers are missing James Clarke and Johnny Burn, who have been long-term absentees.

Oxford go into the game on the back of two wins on the trot, just like Saturday’s opponents.

The U’s won 4-1 away at Peterborough and then 3-0 at home to Wimbledon but boss Pep Clotet has insisted that his side has to be on top of their game to get a result on Saturday.

“Rovers had a good result,” Clotet told the club’s website.

“You have to do a lot of things right to get that sort of result.

“They will have a massive amount of confidence, which will be in their favour so we have to be on top of our game and play to our strengths.”

Gino Van Kessel is a doubt for the game after limping off last time out but both Jon Obika and Dwight Tiendalli are close to returning.

“He (Obika) has been training all week although I don’t want to take too many risks. Dwight is also getting to the final stages and has been working with the squad all week so he is very close as well.”


Rovers’ Sam Slocombe and Liam Sercombe had spells at Oxford, Slocombe was there for a year whilst Sercombe was there for two.

Rovers have won the previous three meetings between the sides, including doing the double over them last season.

Oxford have beaten Rovers just once in their last seven meetings.

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