On-loan Spurs defender Jubril Okedina to make Cambridge United bow against Oxford United in Papa John’s Trophy
Jubril Okedina will make a first appearance for Cambridge United when they travel to Oxford United in the third round of the Papa John’s Trophy tomorrow night (January 12).
The 20-year-old defender joined on loan until the end of the season last week from Tottenham Hotspur, and was an unused substitute in the 2-1 win over Harrogate Town in Sky Bet League Two last Saturday.
He is set to be one of a number of changes as U’s head coach Mark Bonner looks to rotate the squad in order to give a number of players much-needed minutes ahead of the busy schedule ahead.
Among those also likely to start are Robbie Cundy and keeper Callum Burton.
“We will certainly look at a couple of different players, and I think it’s important to do that because we will still be a strong side,” said Bonner.
“We have a really busy run of games going so while some of the players that may rest out from the start don’t really feel like they need it now, we might benefit from that in the next few weeks when we have a lot of Saturday and Tuesday games, and a couple of bigger journeys coming up - at Salford and at Barrow.
“We hope that can benefit us somewhere down the line. You never know, at the drop of a hat you could be one, two, three players down so everybody in the squad needs to be as ready as possible, and the best way to be ready is to have played a game quite recently.
“There is a little bit of longer term strategy there in terms of how we do that, and an opportunity to rest one or two - I say rest but it means not start as but they still may play a part in the game.
“Ultimately, I’m really confident with the squad we’ve built that we can still put a strong team on the pitch to be competitive tomorrow night.
“We’ve always shown we can beat anyone and compete with everyone, and we have to show that again.”
The match will provide United with another opportunity to pit their wits against a team from a higher division.
This season, they have already beaten Championship side Birmingham City, League One teams Burton Albion and Gillingham, drawn with Peterborough United and gave a good account of themselves in the FA Cup defeat to Shrewsbury.
“We want to be competitive and test ourselves against a team from a higher level,” said Bonner.
“When we look at our results this year against teams in the league above, we’ve done well - in this competition, the League Cup or even the FA Cup against Shrewsbury, we were competitive in the game.
“We know that on the top of our game and on a really good night we can compete, but we know how good Oxford are as well.
“They are on a really good run of form. Whichever team they pick they will be strong, and Karl Robinson’s team play a really expansive brand of possession football which will be hard for us to play against.
“We know it will be a tough test, but it’s another good opportunity for us, firstly, to go and test ourselves against a team from a higher level but also keep progressing in the competition.
“We’ve taken it really seriously this year, and tried to be as competitive as we can.
“It’s been good to us from a prize money point of view, and quite often the games have come around when we’ve needed them or when it’s just been a good opportunity for players to get minutes that needed them as well.
“We want to go there and give a good account of ourselves.”
Oxford are currently 12th in League One, but are on a good run of form.
They have won their last four league games, and drew their previous four matches in all competitions.
Bonner said: “They’ve got some really good options in their squad, are on a fantastic run of form and they haven’t played for a week or two but I’m sure they will be full of energy and ready to go.
“It will be a tough test for us. We certainly don’t go there as the favourite but we can go there confident from our performances this year against the teams from the league above and from our own recent results.
“It’s a good opportunity to see where we stand and to try to make progress in a different competition.”
He added: “It’s probably the furthest we’ve gone in this for a while. It’s the best we’ve done out of it financially for a while. It’s served us really well, and we don’t want that to stop.”