Manuel Pellegrini used the Carabao Cup tie against Newport County as an opportunity to give game time to some fringe players who hadn’t seen much action, such as Albian Ajeti and Pablo Zabaleta, as per Transfermarkt.
However, the only academy player to get on the pitch was Conor Coventry, who came on for Jack Wilshere in the 82nd minute.
While it is wise for Pellegrini to take a similar approach against Oxford United, there should be room for Nathan Holland in the line up, due to the team’s current circumstances and his performances for the U23s.
Michail Antonio started the Newport game on the left-wing, though he was forced off in the eighth minute with an injury that still has him on the sidelines.
Felipe Anderson replaced him during that game, but it seems unlikely he will start this game considering Pellegrini’s previous team selection.
The other injury that could inadvertently give Holland a chance is the one keeping Manuel Lanzini out for up to a month, as reported by football.london.
Pablo Fornals played against Newport, but following the Argentinian’s injury, he could be required to step up in the league, which makes him less likely to start in the cup.
This means there are possibly two options Pellegrini would likely have used on the left who will now not be used, leaving a space for someone else to come in and fill that position.
Holland deserves to be that person, having impressed for the U23s, with his big moments this season already including eye-catching goals against Valencia B and Brentford B.
The 21-year-old is going to be around until January at least, when it will likely be decided again if he should leave on loan, so he should be utilised – this could be the best chance Pellegrini has to try him out in quite some time.