Oxford United v Portsmouth - early team news

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Paul Downing is expected to skipper Pompey for their trip to Oxford United in the EFL Trophy.

The centre-back, who signed on a free transfer from Blackburn in June, has slipped down the pecking order at Fratton Park.

Paul Downing. Picture: Nigel Keene

Paul Downing. Picture: Nigel Keene

Downing hasn’t featured in League One since the 2-2 draw with Burton on September 17 and was an unused substitute in the win at Doncaster on Saturday. 

He’ll likely be one of five senior pros who feature at the Kassam Stadium, along with Andy Cannon, Brandon Haunstrup, Anton Walkes and Ryan Williams. 

Alex Bass will start in goal with Craig MacGillivray away on Scotland duty. 

Youngsters Josh Flint, Joe Hancott, Brad Lethbridge, Leon Maloney and Eoin Teggart may also be involved.

John Marquis is sidelined with a bruised toe, while Ronan Curtis is absent after missing the 2-1 victory over Donny with a hamstring injury.

Oli Hawkins (foot) continues his recovery, as well as Jack Whatmough from his long-term knee setback. 

Meanwhile, Oxford United boss Karl Robinson made wholesale changes to his starting line-up for the U’s’ last run-out in the EFL Trophy.

Nine changes were made to the team as the in-form hosts beat Norwich under-21s 2-1 on September 3 – days after a 3-3 draw with Coventry in League One.

And Robinson looks set to do the same for Pompey’s visit to the Kassam Stadium, with the U’s keen to maintain recent moment in the league.

Definitely out, though, is on-loan Liverpool youngster Ben Woodburn.

He broke a bone in his left foot during Saturday’s 2-2 draw at Accrington.

Also missing will be Anthony Forde, who suffered a groin injury at the Wham Stadium.