Our predicted starting XI for play-off semi-final first leg

It’s arguably the biggest selection dilemma for U’s head coach Des Buckingham since he took as boss back in November.

United of course beat the Posh 5-0 only three weeks ago today, and that result came without Elliott Moore and Cameron Brannagan, who were ruled out with hip and ankle injuries respectively.

Will Buckingham stick with the same starting XI which secured the U’s a play-off spot last weekend, in their 2-1 win at Exeter City?

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I had a go at predicting the starting line-up and bench for tonight’s game.


Jamie Cumming has been United’s number one since arriving from Chelsea on loan in January, and barring any late fitness problem, he’ll be between the posts for the U’s.


Fin Stevens started at right back last weekend, with Sam Long missing due to illness. However, I reckon Long will get the nod at right back, due to his additional experience and extra defensive solidity.

Moore and Ciaron Brown then pick themselves at centre half, before the big question at left back. I think you could flip a coin between Joe Bennett and Greg Leigh, with both enjoying fine seasons. However, I think Bennett will keep his place in the team.

Oxford Mail: Sam Long captained the side last time out against Peterborough UnitedSam Long captained the side last time out against Peterborough United (Image: Mike Allen)


It’s hard to see Buckingham making a change to his midfield, with Brannagan playing well as the single six, and Tyler Goodrham and Ruben Rodrigues enjoying their roles as the advanced midfielders.

Josh McEachran was brilliant in Brannagan’s absence when the U’s demolished the Posh last month, and Buckingham will no doubt be tempted to put him in the team, and release Brannagan further forward, with that the likeliest change in midfield.

Oxford Mail: Josh McEachran was on top form during the game between the two teams last monthJosh McEachran was on top form during the game between the two teams last month (Image: Mike Allen)


Like the centre back partnership, United’s attack also pretty much picks itself. Owen Dale and Josh Murphy have been excellent out wide for the U’s, with Marcus Browne for Dale the possible change, but I expect Dale to keep his place. League One player of the month Mark Harris will start up front.

Oxford Mail: The Oxford Mail predicted starting XIThe Oxford Mail predicted starting XI (Image: Lineup 11)


With Long back in the equation, it means someone will have to drop out of the squad. Those closest to playing (Leigh, Stevens, McEachran and Browne) will likely be on the bench, plus Simon Eastwood.

That leaves space for two more, from Marcus McGuane, James Henry and Billy Bodin. All three deserve their place in the squad, and it’ll be unfortunate for whoever has to miss out. On the basis Bodin and Henry offer similar qualities, it may be the latter who is omitted from the squad.

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