RYAN Ledson is champing at the bit to get his Oxford United career up and running tomorrow after a frustrating start to the season.

Signing the highly-rated youngster from Everton was regarded as a coup in August, but he has played just 16 minutes in the ten weeks since.

Half of the time has been wiped out by a knee injury, the first prolonged experience the 19-year-old has had of a football club’s treatment room.

But after getting 90 minutes, and a goal, under his belt for the U’s development squad in a friendly win against Nike Academy in midweek, Ledson is available again.

And with head coach Michael Appleton looking to freshen up his side for the Emirates FA Cup tie at Merstham, the door is opening for the combative midfielder.

He said: “I’ve only been out a month and I’m looking to get back in the team now and start my Oxford career.

“Every game is an opportunity to hopefully play again in the first team.

“I’m really looking forward to it and stake my claim.”

Ledson got a taste for the FA Cup while on loan at Cambridge United last season.

A 3-1 home defeat to Doncaster Rovers may not bear many similarities with what faces United at Moatside tomorrow, though.

“I had never heard of Merstham,” he said.

“It’s an easy banana skin, isn’t it?

“People will think ‘here we go, there’s another FA Cup shock’.

“We certainly don’t want that, we want to go there, get the job done and then get on the road.”

Whether he starts or comes off the bench tomorrow, you could forgive Ledson for being extra careful in the warm-up.

It was in the pre-match drills at Southend United in September he tore cartilage which required a minor operation to put right.

He said: “It was a mad one really, I was just passing a ball in the warm-up and I felt something.

“It was very bizarre. It’s one of the first injuries I’ve had but hopefully I’ve overcome it now.

“It’s been frustrating but the medical staff and have been fantastic with me.

“To get me back on the pitch in such a short space of time is a credit to them and myself.

“I played in the game the other day and I loved it.

“I felt like I was a footballer again and my knee was fine.

“I’ve never had an injury or an operation, so it’s a learning curve for me as well, which is good.

“I’m looking forward to getting going again.”