GEORGE Thorne is all set to make a contribution to Oxford United’s season – and the midfielder is setting high standards against Sunderland today.

The 27-year-old’s loan in the first half of the campaign was wrecked by a dislocated shoulder.

But after engineering a January move out of Derby County to join the U’s permanently, he has been in the squad for the last five games.

While Thorne has made just two substitute appearances in that time, a mix of injuries and a suspension to Alex Gorrin could see him thrust into the action against Sunderland.

He said: “I’m as ready as I can be, training wise.

“Match minutes are the one thing I’ve been lacking and you can only get that from playing.

“I’m ready if needed, we’ll just see what happens.

“When you’re playing you have adrenalin and second winds.”

It is high winds which may be the main issue today, with Storm Dennis expected to impact the contest.

Thorne said: “It should be a very good game, it’s two good attacking teams.

“Both play a good style and hopefully the weather doesn’t ruin the game too much.”

Although the midfielder’s ambitions to play regularly this season have so far been dashed, he returns with a third of United’s Sky Bet League One games remaining.

The ex-England Under 19 international knows time is of the essence after the side collected just six points from the last seven games.

He said: “We need to start picking up wins in the league if we’re going to make a challenge.

“We’re fully aware of that in the dressing room, so it’s a very serious game for us.

“We have 15 games left and you can’t wait for these things to happen and leave until ten games to go.

“We have to start cracking on and get points on the board, which starts on Saturday.”

Sunderland are one of the division’s form sides after six wins from their last eight games.

Chris Maguire is expected to shake off a dead leg to play against his former side, but Elliot Embleton (hamstring) and Joel Lynch (ribs) are injured.


Oxford Utd: from Eastwood, Long, Dickie, Mousinho, Ruffels, Thorne, Brannagan, Sykes, Henry, Taylor, Holland, Mackie, Agyei, Forde, Hanson, Jones, Moore, Stevens.

Sunderland: from J McLaughlin, Willis, Flanagan, Wright, Hume, Power, Maguire, Gooch, O’Nien, Dobson, Wyke, Watmore, Lafferty, Semenyo, Scowen, Ozturk, C McLaughlin, Burge.