By Tony Leighton
Oxford United's new manager Gary Waddock likes a challenge - and he certainly has one on his hands as he looks to guide the U's back on to the promotion trail.
When Waddock took over at the Kassam Stadium three weeks ago he became the third manager in a roller-coaster two months for the Sky Bet League 2 club.
Following the departure of Chris Wilder in late January, when the U's were sixth in the table, caretaker boss Micky Lewis led them up to the automatic promotion places before a fall back to sixth spot by the time Waddock took over.
Four defeats and only one win came in Lewis' final seven games in charge, and Waddock's regime has started with three successive defeats that have sentenced his new team to a tumble out of the Play-Off places.
Former Aldershot Town and Wycombe Wanderers manager Waddock admitted that his players were "devastated" after their latest setback, last Saturday's 2-0 home defeat by promotion rivals Fleetwood Town.
But as he looked ahead to Saturday's visit to Plymouth Argyle, who like the U's are chasing a Play-Off spot, he told football-league.co.uk: "The players are over their disappointment and they've prepared really well to face Plymouth.
"They're a positive group and they've picked themselves up to go again and look to get the results we need to get back up into that top seven.
"It's not going to be easy because we've got some difficult games coming up against teams around us in the table, starting at Plymouth.
"I watched them play at Newport on Tuesday night and they deserved their win. That will be a confidence booster for them after a couple of bad results, and against us they'll have great support as always from their home fans.
"But we'll be aiming to bounce back after the results we've had of late and the lads have got a very positive mindset going into the game."
Eighth in the table Oxford will start the game one place and one point ahead of Argyle and will be looking for a victory to lift morale and confidence ahead of meetings with York City and Scunthorpe United - currently seventh and second in the table respectively - in their next two outings.
Waddock added: "I've been given a fantastic opportunity as manager of Oxford, and there's a big prize for the players if we can get ourselves back on track. It's a tough challenge, but I like a challenge - and as a group we will tackle it head on."
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