Wayne Brown admits winning a fourth promotion of his career this season would be a “great swansong” after being drafted in to replace the injured Ryan Clarke.
The 35-year-old goalkeeper kept a clean sheet in his league debut for the U’s, a 0-0 draw at home to Gillingham.
It remains unclear how long Clarke’s abdominal muscle injury will take to heal, although last week United boss Chris Wilder said he had no problem with relying on his No 2 for the rest of the season, including the play-offs, if necessary.
Brown is no stranger to play-offs after winning the 2006 Conference Premier final with Hereford – one of two promotions with the Bulls.
He also has a Conf e r e n c e title with Chester City on his lengthy CV and, if he retains the jersey for this weekend’s trip to Plymouth Argyle, it will be his 500th career appearance in England.
Brown, who is out of contract in the summer, is thrilled to get a chance to help the U’s during the run-in, knowing he is in the twilight of his playing career.
“I’d love to play in the play-offs, they’re brilliant and getting promoted is an amazing feeling,” he said.
“It’s all about Oxford now, we’ve just got to look after each other and stay as a team.
“It would be a great swansong (for me), but I just wish Clarkey a really quick recovery.
“I think the club’s quite lucky it’s got two really decent keepers, without wanting to blow my own trumpet.”
Brown’s only previous U’s appearances came in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy before Christmas.
Although Clarke’s form means the veteran has no complaints, he admits it has not been easy.
He said: “I’ve never been a No 2 before, so this season has been quite tough, but when you’ve got someone like Clarkey in goal who has done so well – I believe he’s the best keeper outside the Premier League – you just hold your hands up and keep pushing him.
“We’re good mates as well, I haven’t got one bad word to say about him.”
The feeling is reciprocated by Clarke, who, speaking before the injury, credited his displays this season to the increased competition.
He said: “I’ve always got on well with keepers.
“Browny has been fantastic with me and has pushed me because his standards are high.
“I think that’s probably a lot of the reason why things have gone quite well for me this season – because someone has been breathing down my neck.”