Michael Appleton is determined to do his shopping earlier next summer after Oxford United were unable to land their top target before the transfer window shut last night.

The U’s were in advanced talks with an experienced striker, but the deal collapsed before the 11pm deadline.

They will now look to use the loan market, which opens next week, to strengthen the squad instead.

Speaking before the deadline passed, Appleton admitted failing to bring in the player at the top of his wish-list would be a setback.

United’s head coach said: “It would be a big blow, there’s no point hiding that, because I genuinely believe the player that we’ve targeted and are in advanced talks with would make a huge difference to this football club.”

Appleton and chief executive Mark Ashton have been playing catch-up since arriving at the club in early July, two months after the end of last season.

While seven players have been brought in since then, there was room in the budget for one more.

Signing experienced goal-scorers has been the biggest sticking point, with Will Hoskins only arriving last week.

Appleton did not enjoy having to wheel and deal in the closing hours and is adamant it will not be repeated next summer.

He said: “If the recruitment is in a place where it should be, you wouldn’t really put yourself in this position.

“I think stuff that’s done on deadline day is normally to help and add to what you’ve already got, not really going out there to find that missing piece of the jigsaw.

“That tends to happen in the pre-season, when you make sure you’ve got the balance of the squad right.

“It’s one of those times where you don’t want to put yourself in a position where it might happen or it might not.

“If it doesn’t happen you’ve got to move on really quickly.

“The loan window opens again pretty soon, but if there’s an opportunity to do permanent deals you don’t want to be up against a clock to get that done.

“You want to have your due diligence in place.”

United will be hoping the disappointment is short-lived and intend to be active when the loan window opens this time next week.

A move for their main target could be resurrected, but the club have also drawn up an alternative list of players who would be available on a 93-day loan.

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