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Clarke tips Oxford United to bounce back
RYAN Clarke has backed Oxford United to avoid the prolonged slumps which ruined last season as they attempt to respond to a first defeat league defeat of the campaign.
The U’s went down to a 1-0 defeat at home to an impressive Chesterfield outfit last Saturday, ending an encouraging seven-game unbeaten run in Sky Bet League Two.
Now the challenge is to regroup ahead of the visit to Hartlepool United this weekend.
At times last season, United had difficulty in bouncing back from a defeat, losing six games in a row at one stage, which undermined their promotion hopes.
Clarke knows it is vital to avoid a repeat if they are to remain among the division’s leading pack, but the goalkeeper believes the new-look squad are better equipped to handle setbacks this time around.
“Hopefully one game won’t turn into five or six, which is what happened last year,” he said.
“We have just got to make sure we bounce back right and I think with the experience we have in the team, we can do that this season.
“It’s no disrespect to the personnel we had last year, but I think with the players who have come in, we are in a bit of a stronger position to not let that happen.”
But it will not be straightforward for United, who will travel to Hartlepool with a depleted squad.
Andy Whing – controversially sent off against Chesterfield – and Dave Kitson are both suspended, joining injured trio Jake Wright, James Constable and Jon Meades on the sidelines.
Clarke admitted losing several influential players was not ideal, but is optimistic the remainder are good enough to get a result.
He said: “Hartlepool is a massive game now. It’s a long trip and we’ll be preparing all this week for that and make sure we turn things around.
“We have a lot of belief in the squad and we believe we should be in the mix.”