Benson tips Oxford to challenge

Paul Benson
Paul Benson

Striker Paul Benson believes that today’s visitors to Kenilworth Road Oxford United will certainly be of the main challengers Hatters will face for promotion this term.

The U’s have strengthened well during pre-season, signing the likes of Kemar Roofe and Liam Sercombe and were thumping 4-0 winners over Championship side Brentford in the Capital One Cup on Tuesday night.

“If you finish above them, you’ll probably end up at least in the play-offs, as they’ll be contenders for a top seven finish.”

Paul Benson

Benson said: “They’re a good team, they were a good team last season. I thought when we played them at their place, I was impressed with how they payed and they’ve only improved their squad since then.

“They’ll be up there certainly and I think if you finish above them, you’ll probably end up at least in the play-offs, as they’ll be contenders for a top seven finish.

“It will be a tough game, but I think the gaffer says it all the time, which game isn’t tough in this league? Will they be any tougher than what we faced in midweek? I don’t know. As long as we work hard and have that bit of quality we had I think we’ll be all right.

“We need to treat them with a bit of respect, not too much, so we’ll still be confident.”

Town boss John Still also believes opposite number Michael Appleton has improved his squad over the close season, saying: “They’ve got some decent players, Sercombe who they took from Exeter, who’s a decent player.

“Like all leagues, it’s going to be tough. There’s lots of teams who have strengthened their squads and made themselves stronger. I don’t think there’ll be very many gimmes this year, I really don’t.”

Hatters can go into the game full of confidence though according to Benson after themselves knocking out Championship opposition in Bristol City during midweek.

The forward also thinks that after making eight changes, it can only boost the performances of those who played at Accrington.

He added: “It’s massively important in terms of confidence and momentum. A win lifts players, lifts spirits, lifts the crowd, just lifts everyone, especially against a good Championship side.

“You feel good going into work and it just breeds confidence. It will do good for the players who weren’t involved as well, gives them that little bit of extra incentive to work hard in training and keep their places in the team.

“Hopefully if we work as hard as did against Bristol City, I can’t see why won’t be at the right end of the table at the end of the season.”