Why Ciaron Brown hopes international football experience will give him an advantage

The 26-year-old defender has won 18 caps for Northern Ireland, and made his debut for the Green and White Army in a 1-0 win against Luxembourg back in September 2019.

His familiarity with bigger stadiums and important fixtures will no doubt be important for Oxford United when they take on Bolton Wanderers on Saturday afternoon.

READ ALSO: Ciaron Brown relaxed ahead of battle with international colleague

The U’s squad are getting a look at the Wembley pitch on Friday, in order to eliminate any potential nerves ahead of the game.

Brown said: “We do it with international football, where we train at the stadium before the game. It’s to get used to the pitch and the surroundings.

“Maybe the pitch is a little bit different to normal. It takes the edge off it and helps you get used to the surroundings, so it’s not too daunting when you walk in, and nothing’s really a surprise.

“I reckon it’ll take the edge off the boys, and they can just have a look and see what they’re going to play on.

“Selling all the tickets and having a full stadium adds to the excitement. It definitely makes it more exciting.

“Playing in a neutral stadium with a lot more fans could be a bit daunting to a few players, but we’ve got to focus on the game and look beyond that, and just try to get the result.”

United were beaten 5-0 by the Trotters back in March, but results off the back of it saw the U’s lose only once in their final eight matches of the regular campaign.

Brown said: “The defeat to Bolton was a massive turning point in our season, in a good way.

“We’ve changed many things since playing them at their place. It wasn’t a good result, but in a good way, it changed our season for the better.

“They’re a really good team. They were up there fighting for automatics, but just missed out.

“They’re a good team, but in a one-off game at Wembley, anything can happen.

“It’s what everyone in League One wants. It doesn’t matter if you’ve just been promoted or you’ve just been relegated, everyone wants to get promoted into the Championship.

“It’s a big prize. Everyone wants it, but you can’t think that far. You’ve got to focus on Saturday, and do the best that we can do. Hopefully that’s enough to get us promoted.

“This will probably the biggest game in terms of winning gets you promoted, and if you lose, you don’t.

“It’s more of a cut-throat game so I’d probably say this is the most important game that I’ve played in so far.”

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