SIMON Eastwood has been Oxford United’s star man this season, but the goalkeeper is not bothered about his performance on Sunday providing he is on the winning side at Wembley.
The ever-present 27-year-old is set to pass 5,000 minutes on the pitch for the U’s this season during the Checkatrade Trophy final against Coventry City.
Eastwood has been key to the side’s success, but would gladly sacrifice individual glory on the biggest stage if it meant Michael Appleton’s side came out on top.
He said: “I’d be happy whatever happened as long as we win.
“Oxford got there last season and lost, so I don’t think anyone will be too bothered how they played personally, as long as we can get a winner’s medal.”
Like many of his teammates, this weekend will be the first time Eastwood has played at the national stadium.
It has taken seven games to reach the showpiece occasion, where the 70,000-plus gate will be a huge contrast to the small crowds which watched the group stage fixtures.
But the goalkeeper well remembers Appleton stressing at the start of the run of what was at stake.
Eastwood said: “The manager said before the first game there will be hardly anyone out there, but trust me on this, if we do get to Wembley it will be a day out with your family, friends and fans which will definitely be worth it, so dig in now and you’ll get your rewards.
“Luckily enough we’ve got there and I’m looking forward to it.”
It will be a highlight for a player whose first spell at United ended in 2011 without him making his debut and was followed by a spell in non-league where he questioned carrying on as a professional.
But Eastwood stuck to his guns and although Sunday will be a first for him, the former Halifax Town goalkeeper has big games on his CV which will help him prepare for the final.
He said: “I’ve never been to Wembley to play or watch a game, so it will be new for me, but I like to think I’ve played in quite big games.
“At Blackburn I played in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup against Liverpool.
“It’s something that will hopefully stand me in good stead.
“I’ve had a very up and down career. But since day one I’ve always believed in my ability that I can get to where I want to be.”