THESE are tense times in the lower reaches of League One.

Having picked up only one point from their two games against relegation rivals Gillingham and Rochdale this week, Oxford find themselves back below the dreaded line.

They have a four-point cushion on the Bantams before another nail-biting clash this weekend at the Kassam Stadium but the natives are getting restless.

Boss Karl Robinson is feeling the heat in some quarters as he approaches a year at the Oxford helm.

Jamie Mackie believes it is a moment when the older heads in his squad have to step forward.

The striker is closing in on 500 career appearances and sees his role – and that of the other experienced players – as crucial now in preventing any panic.

He said: “You have to be there and be someone others can look at and see you’re not getting affected by it.

“It’s about being there to help the squad around the training ground and being positive. That’s part of your role.

“It doesn’t matter who keeps us in the division, if we all stay balanced as a squad I think we’ve got enough to stay up.

“Be positive, that’s the key to getting out of a situation like this.

“Whatever I’m asked by the manager I’m willing to do it.”

Robinson made five changes for the goalless bore at Spotland so it’s hard to predict what Oxford line-up will face City.

Skipper John Mousinho is set to return to midfield after a tight calf forced him off at Gillingham.

Mackie’s place up front could be under threat from Jerome Sinclair and Robinson may replace Cameron Brannagan with Mark Sykes.

Oxford are without long-term casualties Rob Hall, Jon Obika and Shandon Baptiste, all with knee injuries. Malachi Napa is suffering from a virus.

Having won only one in 11 games from December, Oxford picked up back-to-back victories over Blackpool and Scunthorpe to move clear of the bottom four.

But the last two results have dragged them back in and home fans will see the City encounter as a “must win” afternoon.