Wembley return the only motivation for Mullins against former side Oxford

Hatters defender Johnny Mullins

Hatters defender Johnny Mullins

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Reaching Wembley for the second successive season is the only motivation for Hatters defender Johnny Mullins as he takes on former club Oxford United in the Checkatrade Trophy semi-final this evening.

Mullins comes up against the side he and Town leading scorer Danny Hylton left in the summer, after spending three years at the Kassam Stadium, clocking up over almost 150 appearances.

Having been there last year (Wembley), fallen in the final hurdle, so to speak, that’s my pure and utter motivation, just to go one better.

Johnny Mullins

It was while at the U’s that Mullins tasted the Wembley experience last season, when he played in the 3-2 Johnstone’s Paint Trophy final defeat to Barnsley.

And it’s making sure he’s lifting the trophy this time around, rather than gaining revenge after not being offered a new deal by United, that is the sole thing on his mind.

Mullins said: “It will be good to see some old faces, things happen in football, it happened quite quickly and I still speak to a few people there and it will be a good day.

“But I’ll be fully focused on the job in hand and really looking forward to it.

“Having been there last year (Wembley), fallen in the final hurdle, so to speak, that’s my pure and utter motivation, just to go one better.

“I was watching the Carling Cup final (on Sunday) and you see the stadium and the pitch, and the surroundings, and it was a great day, obviously marred by not winning.

“So we’ve got an opportunity to get there. We’ve got a tough opponent that stands in our way, but we’re on real good form at the moment and hopefully we can get through.”

The defender believes that he and Hylton, who scored 30 goals in 101 games during his time with the club, will get a decent reception from the visitors supporters on the night, saying: “Hopefully it’s a good one. I think we both wore our heart on our sleeves for them and in a good way, so I think they’ll be fine.

“But come the night, it will just be about Oxford wanting to get to Wembley and so will we.”

On opponents Oxford, who are now battling for a play-off place in League One after winning promotion from League Two last season, Mullins continued: “They’ve got some excellent players there, they really have and they’ve kicked on this season.

“They’re in a real good run of form themselves, big Chey (Dunkley) at the back, (John) Lundstram in midfield, they’ve got excellent players, but as have a lot of teams that we come up against.

“They’re a good side, we’re really looking forward to it and know it’s going to be tough challenge.

Whether he will be asked for any tips on how to beat his former side, Mullins added: “I will be able to, it just depends on the team, there are quite a few new players in, but if I’m asked (I will).

“They have got some good players, there’s no denying that.

“They’ve got some real quality players and they’ve recruited from when I was there to get themselves up the league.

“They did it last year and looking to do it again and looking to get to Wembley again.

“They’re doing all the right things and it will be a real tough challenge, but one that we’re really looking forward to.”