HELPING to recruit the right players to improve the Oxford United squad will dominate Mark Ashton’s first weeks as chief executive – with attacking players top of the agenda.
The 42-year-old intends to play a role in advancing the club in all areas, from youth development to the commercial side of the business.
But with the start of the Sky Bet League Two season just five weeks away, he is well aware Michael Appleton needs to hit the ground running when he takes over as head coach on Monday morning.
So far Danny Hylton is the only addition United have sealed this summer.
Yesterday joint owner Ian Lenagan revealed the plan had been to only add one more signing, but the new investment injected by Darryl Eales means there is greater scope to bolster the playing staff.
While a radical shake-up of the squad is not being planned, Ashton is well aware areas need to be strengthened.
“We’ve got to focus in the short-term on the playing squad,” he said.
“We will look to add, I’ve already had some discussions with Michael.
“He’ll be honest and there are a number of players who’ve left the squad since the end of last season and between those players there’s over 30 goals gone out of the team.
“We’re very aware of where we need to strengthen, but we’ve got to be sure it’s strengthened in the right way.
“There’s no point recruiting players for the sake of it. Sensible funds will be made available to strengthen us.”
While Appleton will be starting his squad building two months after the rest of the clubs in Sky Bet League Two, Ashton does not believe it gives United a problem.
He said: “Not really, it goes back to the club being run well.
“Ian hasn’t left himself in a position where he’s got 14 players out of contract.
“It’s an evolution of the squad, so I don’t think there’s anything we can’t cope with in that respect.
“The transfer window goes on after the start of the season as well.”
There is also the potential for fresh blood on the coaching staff.
Andy Melville has not been replaced since leaving as first-team coach in May.
Former West Brom defender Darren Moore, who was part of Appleton’s staff at Blackburn Rovers in 2013, has been linked with becoming United’s new assistant manager, although yesterday Ashton indicated nothing was decided.
He said: “Initially Michael will come in and we’ll take it from there.
“There’s no rush, there are good coaches here, so let’s evolve it.”
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Lenagan says the chairman role was tough but rewarding
Latest United news:
6:40am Wednesday 1st October 2014
JAMES Roberts admitted it was extra sweet to score a winner for Oxford United against rivals Swindon Town, even if it came in a behind-closed-doors game.
3:26pm Tuesday 30th September 2014
JAMES Roberts came off the bench to score the winner as Oxford United came from two goals down to win 3-2 against Swindon Town at Roman Way.
9:00am Tuesday 30th September 2014
Oxford United’s position in the table is now a concern for head coach Michael Appleton, who has acknow-ledged it is taking longer than expected to improve results.
8:00am Tuesday 30th September 2014
A lacklustre Oxford United Women suffered a 5-0 thrashing at local rivals Reading, writes MATTHEW BRUCE.
10:30am Monday 29th September 2014
MICHAEL Appleton admitted Oxford United were second best where it really mattered as they lost 2-0 at Luton Town.
10:24am Monday 29th September 2014
OXFORD United slipped back into the bottom two in Sky Bet League Two as they lost 2-0 at Luton Town.
8:10am Monday 29th September 2014
A RUEFUL Tyrone Barnett held his hands up for a missed header which turned out to be the key moment in Oxford United’s defeat.
7:30am Monday 29th September 2014
JOHNNY Mullins was disappointed Oxford United failed to heed the warnings about Luton Town’s fast start as they fell behind in just over a minute, writes DAVID PRITCHARD.
5:05pm Saturday 27th September 2014
OXFORD United's five-game unbeaten run came to a shuddering halt as they crashed to defeat at Luton Town.