Karl Robinson unapologetic for Oxford team selection plans for youthful Portsmouth visit

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Oxford manager Karl Robinson is unapologetic for his approach leading up tonight’s game with Pompey in the Leasing.com Trophy.

The U’s boss intends to field a strong team for the Southern Group B game – irrespective of Kenny Jackett’s decision to give his Blues youngsters the chance to impress at the Kassam Stadium.

Pompey make the short trip up the A34 knowing they have already booked their place in the next round of the EFL Trophy.

Their immediate priority is Saturday’s home game against Gillingham, with Jackett keen to make it three wins in a row in League One.

And that mean’s some of the club’s academy products will be given another chance to shine in the competition, with the likes of Leon Maloney, Josh Flint, Bradley Lethbridge and Eoin Teggart likely to feature.

Jackett will also hand a Pompey debut to 17-year-old midfielder Harvey Rew, who signed his first professional contract at Fratton Park last week.

Oxford manager Karl Robinson

Oxford manager Karl Robinson

But that approach differs greatly from Robinson’s preparations, with his side yet to book a place in the last 32 of the competition.

A key league game at home to Doncaster Rovers on Saturday means the likes of Jamie Mackie and James Henry will sit out tonight’s match against Pompey.

Yet with Robison keen to breed a winning mentality at the Kassam Stadium, he admitted he’ll keep changes to a minimum.

He told the Witney Gazzette: ‘We want to win, it breeds a mentality.

‘I have a philosophy on rotation that at the right time it’s a necessity. But we’ve done that enough.

‘We don’t have a game next Tuesday and we didn’t have a midweek game last week.

‘We’ve had the rest and recovery. There shouldn’t be a worry in relation to that.

‘We know a point gets us through.

‘If we draw or win against Portsmouth we might use the Crawley game as an experimental opportunity.

‘But if you throw half the team out this week and it doesn’t work then all of a sudden we have to go again in a few weeks.

‘We could put our strongest team out and still lose, but we’ll have a higher probability of getting a result.

‘Getting out of the group is always our objective in this competition.

‘If I have to apologise for wanting to win, I’ll apologise every week.’

Definitely missing from the Pompey squad that will travel to Oxford are Craig MacGillivray (Scotland) and Ross McCrorie (Scotland under-21s) following their international call-ups.

Oli Hawkins (foot) and Ronan Curtis (hamstring) will also be absent, while John Marquis has a bruised toe.