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:
8:00am Tuesday 2nd June 2015
Oxford United’s Callum O’Dowda played for just over 70 minutes as Republic of Ireland Under 21s were beaten 2-1 by England C in Galway yesterday.
8:00am Tuesday 2nd June 2015
Oxford United’s much-criticised Kassam Stadium pitch was laid bare yesterday as preparations began to lay a new semi-synthetic grass.
6:00am Monday 1st June 2015
DIGGERS will rip into the outdated playing surface at the Kassam Stadium today to make way for a completely new pitch.
9:30am Monday 1st June 2015
WHILE the rest of the Oxford United squad have their feet up, Callum O’Dowda has been happily putting in extra training sessions ahead of two games for Republic of Ireland Under 21s this week, writes DAVID PRITCHARD.
9:30am Saturday 30th May 2015
Oxford United’s pre-season preparations have been boosted by the confirmation of a training camp and a match in Austria.
1:00pm Friday 29th May 2015
OXFORD United will spend a week in Austria as part of their pre-season preparations.
9:00am Thursday 28th May 2015
OXFORD United’s ability to land their main targets this summer is down to selling players a vision for the future rather than offering the most money, according to chief executive Mark Ashton.
8:50am Thursday 28th May 2015
OXFORD United have announced big changes in their retail department, which will give them more control over their design of merchandise.
9:30am Wednesday 27th May 2015
RYAN Taylor is relishing the prospect of battling for a place in Oxford United’s striking quartet next season after completing his move yesterday.