JOHN Mousinho admits Oxford United need to make defensive improvements quickly if they want to challenge in Sky Bet League One this season.

An improving Northampton Town visit the Kassam Stadium this afternoon looking to extend their hosts’ five-game winless run in all competitions.

A feature of the dip in form has been a porous back line, which has been breached a dozen times.

Mousinho believes the issue is down to the side figuring out the right balance, but knows the chances of a good season depend on finding the right answers – starting with shutting the Cobblers out today.

The centre back said: “In terms of our progression as a side this season that’s just going to be something we need to work on – and work on quickly if we’re serious about doing anything in the league this season.

“We want to be that side which has that flair and attacking prowess where teams fear playing against us, but we also need to be gritty at the back and be able to grind out a result.

“That sounds like a very good side, but I think we’re capable of doing it.”

He added: “When we’ve kept clean sheets at home we’ve won games.

“We’ll definitely be going out there with an attitude of keeping a clean sheet on Saturday.

“We obviously do that every week, but the more the season goes on the more we have to focus and get serious about making sure we put these games away.”

Mousinho has an idea of what to expect from Northampton, having played under their boss Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink when the pair were at Burton Albion.

He said: “They will be tough to play against.

“They will probably set up with a bank of four and a bank for five, work very hard and look to hit us on the counter and set pieces.

“We can’t underestimate them at all.”

United will make a late call on left back Ricardinho, who has suffered a slight setback in his return from a calf problem.

John-Joe O’Toole is in the frame for the visitors after a minor ankle problem, but striker Alex Revell will miss the game after suffering a groin strain in training.


Oxford Utd: from Eastwood, Ribeiro, Nelson, Mousinho, Tiendalli, Ledson, Ruffels, Henry, Payne, Hall, Thomas, Obika, Mowatt, Rothwell, Xemi, Carroll, Martin, Williamson, Ricardinho, Shearer.

Northampton Tn: from Cornell, Buchanan, Taylor, Pierre, Powell, McWilliams, O’Toole, Poole, Hoskins, Long, McGugan, Crooks, Moloney, Bowditch, Richards, Waters, Kasim, McGivern, Smith, Coddington.