Today’s game would usually be a full house and the perfect way to start our home league season.

Sunderland would have packed the away section, while our fans sell out the rest of the ground for what would be one of the highlights of the campaign.

Our opponents are a massive club at this level and, although we can’t wait for the game itself, there will always be a tinge of disappointment that we can’t share the occasion with our fans.

Liam Kelly: If Oxford United trust approach, the wins will follow

There are encouraging signs that we may be able to have a limited number of fans back for our next home game, against Crewe.

Safety has to be the priority, so the plans are being run past the right people.

It’s a shame not to have supporters back today, but I hope the people watching at home get to see a really good game of football.

Phil Parkinson has put together a very strong squad, but we have done the same and I expect another very close game – just like all of the others between the two teams over the last few years.

We are without several key players today through injury, making the appeal to overturn Rob Atkinson’s red card at Lincoln even more important.

We have, however, trained really well and I thought we were very impressive against Watford in midweek, so there are plenty of positive signs.

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There is always an intensity to training: I insist on it.

You need a high tempo and you need everyone to concentrate just as hard through the week as they do in matches.

Even so, there has to be light and shade and Chris Short is the master of that.

We went out for the warm up one day this week and he had asked our friends at Polythene UK for a giant plastic sheet, which he had turned into a waterslide!

Witney Gazette:

It was part of a relay and completely optional if players preferred to sit it out.

Those that did were in hysterics, but it got things buzzing and training was an absolute pleasure afterwards.

We have trained well, we have prepared thoroughly and we are ready.

Home form is always key and it will be interesting to see how that settles down while there are no fans in the ground.

Instead of the buzz of the crowd, we have to use the familiarity with our surroundings, the excellent playing surface and our own motivation to find a way to win our homes games right now.

Hopefully we start as we mean to go on.

There’s another big game for Oxford United this weekend when the women start their season away at Gillingham.

Can I take this opportunity to wish them well for the season.

Their manager, Liam Gilbert, has built a very strong squad and I like to keep an eye on their progress, because Oxford United is a football club, not just one team.

Our Under 18s won their first game 11-1, while our Under 21s impress against Bristol City.

Whether it’s our walking football teams, or even our online gaming sides, we always want to do well.

Sunday is an away game for the women, but if you get the chance to watch them at Court Place Farm this season, please do.