Player Performance

Oxford United players set for testing time tomorrow

OXFORD United will test their players’ bodies and minds tomorrow in an attempt to make the most of another blank weekend.

Unlike the U’s previous three postponements this season, Doncaster Rovers’ decision to call off the trip to the Kassam Stadium was not down to coronavirus.

Instead, three international call-ups in their squad allowed the Yorkshire club to delay the fixture.

It was the last thing United wanted, with most in Sky Bet League One having played two more games already.

But they are attempting to turn the gap into a positive, by using it as a chance to hit the reset button after a frantic spell.

Some players have already been rested for last weekend’s Emirates FA Cup defeat to Peterborough United and Tuesday’s win at Walsall in the Papa John’s Trophy.

Everyone was given yesterday and today off, before a day of testing tomorrow.

It will include collecting data from individual drills on the athletics track at Horspath across the road from the training ground, plus blood testing.

And it is not just the first team – everyone aged 16 upwards is involved.

U’s boss Karl Robinson said: “There will be ten testing fundamentals that we believe are sufficient to play for Oxford United.

“We’re trying to draw on a one club philosophy physically, tactically and technically.

“We have some wonderful athletes, one of the big components here is you’ve got to be able to run.

“Some of the players who fall short of that are the ones who end up falling away from the club.

“The fitness team and the medical team are really excited about Friday, because it gives us a snapshot of where the club’s at.”

The statistics will be compared to similar tests done during pre-season – and last season for the longer-serving players.

As well as the raw numbers, Robinson also wants to get an idea of his players’ mental state.

The club have discussed putting together psychological tests to form profiles of the squad.

The U’s boss is a big believer in mental health and sports psychotherapist Gary Bloom has worked with the club for two years.

Robinson said: “Other clubs are starting to call us now and ask how we do it.

“Footballers are no different to everyone, we get wrapped up in the good, the bad and the ugly of what life is all about.

“We’ve got to make sure our club puts itself at the cutting edge.

“If we can understand our players better, we can get more out of them.”

Few in the squad will have a bigger spring in their step tomorrow than Leon Chambers-Parillon.

The 19-year-old made his professional debut at Walsall, coming on with the game scoreless and United’s progression from the group stage in the balance.

Robinson said: “I do test young players and put them in very uncomfortable positions, because that’s football.

“At 0-0 if he makes a mistake we get beaten and don’t qualify.

“But they have to learn to cope with that.”