HEAD coach Michael Appleton wants to get most of Oxford United’s summer signings completed before they face Wolverhampton Wanderers next week.
The boss compared their efforts to seal deals to a “chess match”, but he will be disappointed if the work does not yield several results in the next few days.
Only midfielder Michael Collins has come in since Appleton arrived on July 7.
Next week, United’s pre-season goes up a notch as Wolves visit the Kassam Stadium on Tuesday, before Bournemouth arrive four days later.
And Appleton is keen to have most of the squad in place before then, to give them the best chance of being ready for the season’s start on August 9.
“In an ideal world, I’d want the majority of players I want to bring in before the Wolves game,” Appleton said.
“That becomes the really serious part of pre-season, we’re going to come up against two sides who have vast experience of Championship football.
“They have two completely different styles, so it’s going to be a really good challenge.
“By the time we get to those two games, I want to make sure I’ve got a good balance and a good mix to choose from.
“I’m feeling very confident about it (completing the signings), but you just don’t know.
“I would be a bit disappointed if we don’t, because we’re working ever so hard to make it happen.”
Adding firepower was already a priority for United, and their need only increased in the wake of Dave Kitson’s retirement.
Appleton, who is looking at long-term loans in addition to permanent deals, said: “We are short, and if we’re going to go with three up there, we’re going to need two or three additions.
“We are in a chess match with a lot of people at the minute.
“That doesn’t mean there’s a problem, it’s just at the end of the day the deal has to be right for all parties.”
The squad return from their four-day camp at Bisham Abbey today.
While training has not changed, Appleton viewed the trip as extremely worthwhile.
He said: “It’s been an opportunity to get to know the players a bit better.”
A youthful United side are in action at Abingdon Town tonight (7.30).
Latest United news:
2:00pm Friday 27th February 2015
While Gary Waddock’s time in charge at Oxford United was brief, it produced one clear benefit which has helped the side this season.
1:00pm Friday 27th February 2015
NO further contract talks are expected at Oxford United until the club’s Football League status is secured.
12:00pm Friday 27th February 2015
Oxford United travel to Portsmouth today - catch up on all our preview stories and video of the first league meeting between the sides
11:00am Friday 27th February 2015
GARY Waddock says he feels no bitterness towards Oxford United as he prepares to face the club for the first time since being sacked last summer.
9:20am Friday 27th February 2015
MICHAEL Appleton says there is no better place for Oxford United to win this season than Fratton Park – and it has nothing to do with his links to Portsmouth.