CHRIS Maguire’s future at Oxford United will feature prominently when executive chairman Darryl Eales discusses January plans with Michael Appleton this week.
The pair are due to catch up for an update on transfer targets in the wake of Sunday’s win against Swansea City in the Emirates FA Cup.
It has been a quiet window so far at the U’s, with out-of-favour midfielder Michael Collins’s exit the only movement.
But it could all change in the next few days, with the loan deals for Maguire and Jordan Evans expiring after Sunday.
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While United are confident of agreeing an extension with Fulham for Evans, it had been thought the prospects of keeping Maguire were remote.
But with parent club Rotherham United surprisingly giving the striker permission to play in the FA Cup, coupled with the forward’s excellent display, there is a feeling a deal could be done.
Appleton, United’s head coach, said: “The reality is if we can keep him happy then I always say to him and all the players I know from personal experience the grass isn’t always greener.
“When you’re in a good place, enjoy it and enjoy winning games of football.”
Eales did not rule out United making a move, whether it was on a longer loan or, with Rotherham believed to be willing to let Maguire go, even agree a permanent deal.
The U’s owner said: “We’ve got him to the middle of January, then it’s up to Michael, the player and Rotherham.
“We’ll catch up this week in terms of what Michael wants to do to maintain or strengthen the squad.
“If you look at that (Swansea) performance and the bench you think ‘if we’re going to strengthen who are you going to leave out?’ “The critical thing I can’t overestimate is the value of team spirit.
“That team plays for each other.”
The FA Cup win – and the superb performance which went with it – will intensify speculation linking U’s stars with approaches from big clubs.
Appleton is confident United have the ability to hold on to their key men, but also believes a big hurdle to any potential deals would come from the players themselves.
He said: “Come the end of the season it might be a different scenario, depending on what we do in terms of whether we get promoted or not.
“But you go into that dressing room and nobody wants to go anywhere anyway.
“You could put a fantastic opportunity on the table and the reality is – whether that’s players or staff – it’s a nice place to be and nobody wants to go anywhere.”