MILES Welch-Hayes says his debut will give all Oxford United’s emerging talent a massive lift.

The 19-year-old was handed a first U’s start in last week’s 2-0 Sky Bet League One defeat at Fleetwood Town.

With Christian Ribeiro injured and Sam Long suspended, Welch-Hayes was the only recognised right back in the United squad for the long trip north.

U’s boss Michael Appleton hinted beforehand he could hand a first start to the Wolvercote youngster, but Welch-Hayes said it did not sink in until it was official.

“It was obviously a very proud moment for me,” he said.

“I am an Oxford lad and came through the ranks here and to make my full debut for the club was a great feeling – it was a real shame we couldn’t get the right result though.”

Welch-Hayes is the latest in a long line of young talent given an opportunity to shine by Appleton.

And the defender believes it sends out a positive message to those trying to break into the first-team squad.

He said: “It’d be easy for the manager not to give the younger players like me a chance, but he’s shown he is happy to put his faith in them.

“As a youth team player or young professional it gives you real hope. Hopefully I can kick on from here and try make more appearances.”