The U’s kick off their season against Carlisle at the Abbey on Saturday.
Despite already having played two cup games this season, we’re no closer to being able to guess Mark Bonner’s preferred starting XI for League games. Who’ll start in goal is anyones call, and we suspect the defence will feature Knoyle and Dunk on the right and left, with Taylor and one of Cundy or Iredale in the middle. Harry Darling has a knock and is unlikely to feature.
In the midfield Tom Knowles laid down his marker for a start with a great performance against Fulham U23’s, giving Bonner a bit of a headache on the wings with Hoolahan, Davies and Hannant also available to start. Centre-mid is another position with players available, we’d be inclined to see Adam May line up alongside the Digger in the centre of the park.
Up front, all four of our strikers have already started matches this season, we think Mullin will be a first choice, and would like to see Knibbs alongside him, but Ironside will be in with a shout too.
Our opponents haven’t had a great start to the season, losing their EFL Trophy match against Fleetwood 3-1 (although we’d always be wary of inferring too much from performances in that competition) and being knocked out of the Carabao Cup 3-0 to Oldham, a team widely tipped to struggle this season.
Overall, we have an unimpressive record against our Cumbrian initial-sharers, in 32 games we have won 8 times, lost 10 and drawn 14. Last season we failed to beat them losing 2-1 at home in February and drawing 0-0 at Brunton Park in November. Our last win against them came in March 2017 thanks to a Medy Elito hat trick in a 3-0 away win, you have to go back to 2014 for our last win at the Abbey, where a goal from Issa Diallo and braces from Robbie Simpson and Jayden Stockley saw us run out 5-0 winners.