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:
9:20am Tuesday 28th April 2015
Michael Appleton expects Danny Hylton to attract interest this summer – because he has already been contacted by clubs keen to sign Oxford United’s top scorer.
9:10am Tuesday 28th April 2015
Johnny Mullins is set to miss Oxford United’s final game of the season with concussion sustained in Saturday’s 2-0 win against Cambridge United.
12:50pm Monday 27th April 2015
JOHNNY Mullins praised Oxford United’s medical staff for their swift action after being concussed following a horror fall against Cambridge United.
9:30am Monday 27th April 2015
DANNY Hylton was honoured to be voted player of the season by Oxford United’s supporters and capped it off with an excellent display in a 2-0 win against Cambridge United.
8:40am Monday 27th April 2015
MICHAEL Appleton felt Oxford United’s performance deserved more than their 2-0 win against Cambridge United, but was delighted to finish on a high in front of the home fans.
3:03pm Sunday 26th April 2015
WATCH the best moments as Oxford United signed off at the Kassam Stadium with a comfortable 2-0 win against Cambridge United.
5:53pm Saturday 25th April 2015
5:02pm Saturday 25th April 2015
GOALS from Kemar Roofe and Danny Hylton saw Oxford United win their final home game of the season at a canter against Cambridge United.
9:30am Saturday 25th April 2015
Michael Collins expects a reminder of Oxford United’s heavy defeat at Cambridge United earlier in the season will be pinned up in the changing room to act as motivation ahead of their rematch today.