OXFORD United’s ambition and the prospect of more transfer activity was enough to convince Michael Collins to walk out on a trial with a League One club and sign up.
The 28-year-old yesterday became Michael Appleton’s first addition as he agreed a one-year deal, with the club retaining the option for an additional 12 months.
Collins was available as a free agent after being released by Scunthorpe United, where he made 17 appearances in Sky Bet League Two as they won automatic promotion last season.
It was the first time the midfielder had played in the fourth tier during his ten-year career.
He is keen to move up the pyramid and was training with Bradford City before United’s approach changed his mind.
“I was training with Bradford with a view to something happening, but once I’d spoke to Oxford and had a concrete offer it swayed it for me,” he said.
“I just felt there’s something quite special that might just happen here and I was happy to be a part of it.”
Key to his decision was United’s plan to reinforce the squad before the start of the season.
He said: “I think you’ll start to see over the coming weeks that this is the first of four or five signings.
“The club’s got ambitions certainly to get promoted this season and that’s my ambition as well, I want to be back playing in League One.
“I wanted to wait for a club that if they weren’t in League One then they had aspirations to get there.
“This ticks every box, so I’m really pleased.”
The trial at Bradford means Collins is up to speed physically and allowed him to play 62 minutes in the pre-season friendly win at Oxford City last night.
The former Huddersfield Town trainee provides some much-needed experience to a youthful U’s squad and as a former club captain at Scunthorpe, he also adds leadership.
Collins’s stay at Glanford Park was disrupted by two injuries, restricting him to 89 appearances in four years, but he is confident of playing a full role this season.
He said: “Prior to signing for Scunthorpe I was injury-free.
“I went there and picked up an Achilles injury which kept me out for 14 months and then I came back and played a solid seven months.
“I was made captain and picked up a knee injury in a tackle, which is a hazard of the job.
“The main thing is I feel good now and feel ready to go for the season.”
Latest United news:
12:10pm Monday 26th January 2015
OXFORD United have had a transfer fee accepted by Peterborough for striker Tyrone Barnett.
11:00am Monday 26th January 2015
WATCH the goals from Oxford United's 2-2 draw with Exeter City, where James Roberts scored a stoppage-time equaliser at the Kassam Stadium.
9:30am Monday 26th January 2015
JAMES Roberts said it was a huge relief to get off the mark in front of Oxford United’s home fans and admitted his superb equaliser was down to pure instinct.
8:00am Monday 26th January 2015
Josh Ashby was grateful he was given little warning about making his senior debut for Oxford United in the 2-2 draw with Exeter City.
8:00am Monday 26th January 2015
Michael Appleton took pride in the character his young Oxford United side showed to bounce back from conceding a late goal and claim a 2-2 draw against Exeter City.