OXFORD United’s players will have their work cut out in the Portuguese sun this week.

The U’s squad have started an intense five-day training camp as their preparations for the 2019/20 season step up a gear.

In contrast to previous overseas trips, United have no friendlies.

Instead, Karl Robinson’s side will fly to Scotland at the end of the week for their eye-catching fixture against Glasgow Rangers at Ibrox on Sunday.

United’s head of physical performance Chris Short has been overseeing pre-season so far and insists the trip away will be no holiday.

“We’ve got five days of hard work,” he said. “A bit of sunshine will be good and it’s a great facility.

“There will be some team bonding and Karl’s great, he’s got some really good ideas.

“We work really, really hard, but he allows them time to recover which is vital.”

Robinson is known for his tough pre-seasons and Short believes pushing the players to their limits now will only benefit the team in the long term.

United took 27 points from their final 13 games to move well clear of the Sky Bet League One relegation zone last season.

And Short insists putting in the hard yards now is a key factor to that kind of form.

“He said: “Karl’s pre-seasons are hard and I’m like him – I think they should be tough.

“They have to be hard. If they’re not then we’re failing ourselves and the players – they need to be demanding.

“I think it proves that when they finish the season strongly.

“One of the reasons for that is because of the period they’ve put in during pre-season and also the time they have off to recover.”

As well as the obvious benefits to his players’ fitness, the trip is valuable for Robinson in other ways.

It is an opportunity for the U’s boss to see his squad in a different setting and a chance to learn more about his group.

He also hinted there could be new faces joining them by the weekend.

Robinson said: “It’s important you get to know your team and that’s what it really does for me as a manager.

“I get to spend time with my players and hopefully along the way we will be on the phone constantly and maybe people will meet us in Scotland.”

He added: “It’s going to be difficult (in Portugal).

“But equally there’s going to be a leisure activity in there where we can bond and get together.

“We’ll find each other out and we’ll find what people like and don’t like.

“For me, it’s 6.30 in the morning when people are running – that’s when you see their character.”

  • JEROME Sinclair completed a loan move to Dutch club VVV-Venlo on Saturday.

The Watford striker, a target of Oxford United after a successful loan spell last season, rejected a return to the U’s in favour of a year-long switch to the Dutch outfit, who finished 12th in the 2018/19 Eredivisie.