OXFORD manager Michael Appleton said his players haven’t been “working on smashing balls up to strikers” ahead of the clash with Millwall this weekend.
Appleton was referring to preparation to counter Millwall’s direct style of play, and the threat Lee Gregory and Steve Morison will pose to his side.
Oxford got the better of Millwall over two legs of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy area final last season, holding out for a 2-1 aggregate win after Gregory had threatened to turn the tie on its head with a goal in the second leg at the Kassam Stadium (above).
Gregory and Morison have scored 14 goals between them this season and Appleton, whose side are two places and one point above Saturday’s opponents in the League One table, isn’t underestimating the threat of the Lions.
“They’ve not made the start they would have liked after finishing last season strongly to get into the play-offs,” Appleton told the Oxford Mail.
“They are still a very difficult side to play against – they get the ball into the strikers very early.
“The two they have in Morison and Gregory are as good as any in the division, so it’s something we have to be mindful of.
“But I don’t want to spend four hours a week working on smashing balls up to strikers and getting them to pretend to be Gregory and Morison.
“That would completely take the focus away from what you’re about.
“You just have to trust the players that over a period of games they will get better, nullify a few mistakes and be a bit more competitive.
“When that happens and they get confidence from picking up a couple of results then what we do with the ball will become the most important thing, as it should be.”
Image source: ©Millwall FC