Appleton happy with performance of Oxford United youngsters

James Roberts fires home the only goal

James Roberts fires home the only goal

First published in Sport

MICHAEL Appleton hailed the contribution of Oxford United’s youngsters in Saturday’s 1-0 pre-season friendly win over Didcot Town, writes MATTHEW BRUCE.

James Roberts netted the only goal as Appleton named a starting XI with an average age of just 21.

And although the U’s boss wants his side to convert more chances, he was pleased with what he had seen.

“I thought the young players acquitted themselves really, really well,” he said.

“Apart from the obvious one about taking chances, I thought it was good.

“I suppose some of the players will say ‘we hit the target’, which is important and is good, but I’d be surprised if we didn’t create 20 chances at least within six yards out, which is a little bit worrying.”

Bringing in another striker remains a priority for Appleton this summer, who gave experienced striker Dave Kitson the weekend off.

“He’s had a couple of tough days,” Appleton said.

“Obviously he’s only a little bit younger than I am and he’s been working really hard so I gave him the weekend off.

“We’ll be back in next week and we’ll try to get as many people who can score goals as possible.

“Obviously there’s a few of the lads I could have given the weekend off because they’ve been working ever so hard.

“That was why we went with a lot of the younger ones to start with and gave the more experienced players only 30 minutes.”

That gave Roberts and company another chance to impress, but the goalscorer revealed that Kitson had been a big help for him after imparting his advice before the game.

“It was just yesterday that me and Kits were on the sidelines watching the shape and he was giving me advice on how to get onside quicker and use my body more, which is perfect for me,” said the goalscorer.

“There’s not many people better to learn from than someone who’s played in the Premier League, so it’s really good.”

He added: “As a striker obviously my main aim is to score goals and I’m doing that, which is all I can do.

“I think it’s important for me that I’m in a position to score chances.

"It means the team’s playing well and putting me in.

“I know I’ve got to be a bit more clinical, but I’m happy with the one I got.”

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