SWINDON Town manager John Sheridan believes his team can top a mini league of up to 10 teams in the bottom half of League One before the end of the season.

The Town boss was speaking after his team’s 1-0 defeat to Lincoln City in midweek – a game in which Town dropped down to 19th below Oxford United ahead of the pair’s derby clash on Saturday.

Following the result, Swindon slotted into the middle of a cluster of nine sides in the lower half of the table that are separated by six points.

Sheridan believes his team definitely have the quality to rise up to 15th before setting their sights on a higher target later on in the campaign.

He said: “There are a lot of teams around us, so whether we think in terms of being in a mini league of eight or 10, let’s just try and get to the top of that league, and we’re capable of doing that.

“I’ve seen good things so far. We look up for the fight, and once we get a few people back available fighting for a place, it makes my decision a lot harder.

“I’ll be able to pick from a good, strong group of players and I think we’ll be ok.

“I’m hoping Tyler Smith might have a chance for Saturday, and one or two are coming back from injury, but it’s important we don’t just throw them back in there because they’ve got more chance of getting injured again.”

With Brett Pitman out for around six weeks and Hallam Hope not Sheridan’s ideal option in the centre forward role, a potential return for Sheffield United loanee – and Town’s top scorer – Tyler Smith could hardly have come at a better time.

The Swindon manager is predicting Karl Robinson’s team will dominate the ball on Saturday, but Sheridan remained confident his team will be able to overcome the 21st century league hoodoo against the Yellows and return to Wiltshire with all three points for the first time since 2001.

He said: “I’ve heard plenty about this rivalry. It’s obviously a shame the supporters aren’t here because it would have been a brilliant atmosphere, but it will still be a tough game.

“Oxford are a good footballing side who had a good result in midweek and last Saturday.

“I know Karl Robinson very well, his teams are always good, football-wise, but we go there with confidence after the performance against Lincoln.”