THE shock departure of Oxford manager Chris Wilder to take over at bottom club Northampton Town last week could not have come at a worse time for Bury boss David Flitcroft.
The Shakers manager was already preparing his players to face one of League Two’s promotion contenders at the JD Stadium tonight.
But now he is bracing himself for the added threat of facing an Oxford side out to impress a prospective new manager.
“We are not too sure how the bounce will be from Chris Wilder leaving,” Flitcroft admitted.
“He is a real infectious character, a top guy who knows his football inside out.
“You don’t know what affect that has on a group of players – do they get a lift, I’m not too sure.
“But certainly, players are creatures of habit and if there is a manager waiting in the stands then the tempo will be good.”
Managerless Oxford moved back into the automatic promotion places with a 2-1 win over AFC Wimbledon on Saturday, while Bury jumped two places to 20th with a hard-fought victory over relegation rivals Wycombe Wanderers.
Flitcroft, whose side went into last weekend’s match on the back of two consecutive postponements, now hopes to build on that 1-0 win and heap further pressure on their relegation rivals.
“The two games called off were frustrating, so to get a win on Saturday was reward for all the work put in,” he said.
“To get the game on was crucial to gain some momentum and we have also put some pressure on teams above us now and made it really tight.
“That was the key thing for me, to get them looking over their shoulder.
“We have gained a springboard and a bit of momentum, but it’s no good if we don’t follow that up against Oxford.”
Winger Danny Mayor will complete a three-match suspension tonight, while injury doubts hang over star striker Daniel Nardiello, who was a surprise omission from Saturday’s squad with a hamstring problem.
“We thought it would take seven to 10 days to heal as a guideline,” said Flitcroft. “He’s done a very good session (on Saturday) morning and he’s getting up to match speed now so, potentially we will have him for the Oxford game.
“We will just have to monitor it though.
“If there’s any doubt, I’m not going to risk him on a heavy pitch, where there is a good chance of aggravating the injury.”