JAMIE Mackie has urged Oxford United’s players to make the most of a rare chance to take on Premier League rivals when they host West Ham United tomorrow.

Manuel Pellegrini’s team are only the second top-flight side the U’s have faced since February 2017 and a crowd in the region of 10,000 is expected at the Kassam Stadium.

United go into the game on the back of a record-breaking 6-0 away win at Lincoln City on Saturday.

And Mackie, who was on target at the weekend, believes the Carabao Cup third round tie should be an occasion to be savoured.

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He said: “We’ve got some young players who probably haven’t played against those sorts of sides.

“It’s a chance to showcase your talent against a Premier League side.

“As a younger player I would be champing at the bit to play in a game like that. It’s a great opportunity for the lads to show how good they are.

“You don’t know how many times you’re going to get to play against a top side.

“Any opportunity you get like this you’ve got to cherish.

“The better the players the better the challenge and the more you want to step up.”

Boss Karl Robinson could have some difficult conversations with players as he plans to make changes with one eye on Saturday’s Sky Bet League One game with Gillingham.

Mackie, who turned 34 on Sunday, is one of those who could be protected for the weekend.

He said: “A few of the older boys might get a rest, I don’t know.

“I think people would be keen to play, but we’ve got a massive game a couple of days later.

“We’d all be lying if we said that it was a more important game than Gillingham, but you still approach it to win.

“There’s no way you’re thinking ‘I want a rest’.”

Having played in the Premier League with Queens Park Rangers, Mackie knows what the visitors will be feeling tomorrow.

The Hammers are boosted by a 2-0 win over Manchester United on Sunday, but their hosts will not be short on confidence following their impressive result the previous day.

And while United are big outsiders to reach the last-16 for the first time in 21 years, the underdogs can make life difficult.

Mackie said: “They will be thinking they can make changes and still have enough.

“I haven’t been in the Premier League for a long time, but I remember whenever you were playing against a team lower than you it’s tougher being on that side of the fence sometimes.”