SIMON Eastwood says having a less prominent role at the start of the campaign shows Oxford United’s defensive unit is stronger than last season.

Only Scunthorpe United and Wigan Athletic have conceded fewer goals in Sky Bet League One than the U’s, who host Gillingham today.

Eastwood regularly starred with big saves during the 2016/17 season, especially in the opening weeks when Michael Appleton’s side struggled for results.

The goalkeeper has been less in the spotlight so far this term, which he would be delighted to continue this afternoon.

He said: “As a goalkeeper it’s nice to go through some games and not be spoken about, then you know you’re doing alright – your normal six or seven out of ten.

“Otherwise you’ve had an unbelievable game or a nightmare.

“You can’t have an unbelievable game every week, so you just like to stay in the middle and get through three or four games without anyone saying anything about you.

“I know we’re very early on, but I think last season I seemed to have a little bit more to do than I have at the start of this season.

“I think we seem a bit stronger in the defence.

“We’ve brought in Mous (John Mousinho) from Burton – I’ve only seen him for a couple of days in training, but he looks to be a very good sign-ing.

“It’s another body for the back line, which will only strengthen it.

“For me it’s good to have a solid back four and you go from there.”

Hopes will be high United can take all three points today, against a Gills side yet to taste victory in the opening month of the League One season.

Eastwood knows exactly what to expect, after the U’s took four games to get up and running 12 months ago.

“It’s not a nice place to be,” he said.

“You are absolutely desperate and you’d give anything for a win.

“I remember how it felt, so it will be tough.

“I know they’re quite direct and use long throws, so there will be problems for us.

“We just have to defend well and keep the ball out of the net.”