Inconsistent Oxford United are certainly not lacking in key experience
WHEN Oxford United are good, they can be very good indeed. But when they're bad, they can be dreadful.
It's that inconsistency that's stopped the U's mounting a serious promotion bid in recent seasons and, so far, it's held them back again this season.
It's their away form which has hurt Chris Wilder's men worst – six defeats on the road is too many for a club of that potential at this stage of the campaign.
If there's one quality that Wilder does not lack in his squad, it's experience.
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Even without veteran Michael Duberry, Wilder's defence roster includes goalkeeper Ryan Clarke, 30, former Plymouth full-back Tony Capaldi, 31, ex-Brighton man Andrew Whing, former Rotherham stopper Johnny Mullins and Jake Wright, both 26.
Even at 25, 6ft 4in tall centre-back Michael Raynes has nearly 250 senior appearances to his credit, most of them with Stockport, Scunthorpe and Rotherham.
Talented Brighton youngster Jake Forster-Caskey has been a hit on loan this season, and in midfield Wilder can also call on Scot Peter Leven (Kilmarnock, Chesterfield, MK Dons), Sean Rigg (Bristol Rovers, Port Vale), Alfie Potter (see Player To Watch) and Adam Chapman, who's been steadily growing into the job since moving from Sheffield United three years ago.
Wilder's first-choice pairing up front is probably James Constable and Tom Craddock.
Constable's record of 80 goals in 165 starts since he moved from Shrewsbury in 2008 speaks for itself.
He can have his off-days and his disciplinary record isn't the best, but he is a real handful at his best.
Ex-Middlesbrough and Luton striker Craddock already has ten goals this season, although four of them came in a 5-0 rout of Accrington.
Other striking options include former Crawley and Wycombe player Jon-Paul Pittman and youth graduates Tyrone Marsh and James Roberts, who's hit 14 goals in six youth games this season.
Centre-half Harry Worley started his career at Chelsea, while Luke O'Brien is a clever left-back who spent five years at Bradford City before a brief spell with Exeter.
Lee Cox is a midfielder on loan from Swindon, while goalkeeping cover is supplied by 35-year-old Wayne Brown (Chester, Hereford, Bury).