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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Latest United news:
4:00pm Thursday 26th March 2015
OXFORD United have signed Peterbrough striker Kyle Vassell on loan until the end of the season.
8:00am Thursday 26th March 2015
Sam Long hit the opener and made the second as a youthful Oxford United development side beat their Oxford City counterparts 2-0 yesterday.
8:00am Tuesday 24th March 2015
Midfielder Michael Collins says head coach Michael Appleton’s calm persona will help banish Oxford United’s relegation fears.
9:30am Monday 23rd March 2015
MICHAEL Collins believes Oxford United’s players have to fight for their livelihoods and be willing to put their bodies on the line for the sake of the club’s Football League status, writes JACK JOHNSON.
8:00am Monday 23rd March 2015
Michael Appleton was left disappointed by Oxford United’s lack of cutting edge, after his side did everything but score against promotion-chasing Shrewsbury Town, writes JACK JOHNSON.
7:00am Monday 23rd March 2015
Oxford United full-back George Baldock believes confidence played a big part in Saturday’s 2-0 defeat at Shrewsbury Town, writes JACK JOHNSON.
5:01pm Saturday 21st March 2015
OXFORD United have been well and truly sucked into a relegation scrap after a frustrating 2-0 defeat at 10-man Shrewsbury Town.
9:00am Saturday 21st March 2015
Ryan Clarke insists while most people will view Oxford United’s trip to Shrewsbury Town as a home banker today, there is genuine belief within the camp they can take another scalp on the road.
2:00pm Friday 20th March 2015
WHILE Oxford United’s strikers go into tomorrow’s game in need of a boost, their defenders will be well aware of the danger posed by one of Shrewsbury Town’s forwards.