"And that sweet city with her dreaming spires"
After the disappointment of our F A Cup exit at the hands of The Gas, we go again in the one remaining Cup competition open to us - The Papa John’s EFL Trophy, where we do have the prospect of progressing to the knock-out stage. As things stand Oxford United are at the head of our Group, but a Saddlers win would see us leap-frog over them and qualify for the next stage.
This competition gives managers the opportunity to experiment in team selection, rotating the squad and tinkering even more than usual - as an example, Darrell Clarke gave starting places in our most recent EFL Trophy game against Chelsea’s kindergarten side to Rose, Osadebe, Nolan and Bates. No doubt Karl Robinson will have the same outlook, especially as Oxford United’s position in League One is crying out for some sort of kickstart … they are currently down amongst the dead men in that table, having lost 6 of their 9 games so far. Team changes mean that current League form is almost meaningless.
So what will our tinkerman come up with? Rose will probably start, and this is a move that is possibly overdue anyway. Scrimshaw has shown a willingness to show his energy in the cameo roles that have come his way so far, and Elijah would benefit from a rest from the physical demands which the current 2-games-a-week-every-week have placed on him. Adan George (assuming he is match-fit) is another loan youngster who could be given free rein up front.
Predicting a result in this game is almost like licking a finger and holding it aloft to judge wind direction, so for once there will be no forecast here. Suffice it to say that a home win would not only propel us to the next stage of this competition, but it would also have a positive influence on the club going forward to next Saturday’s fixture against the mighty Southend United.