KARL Robinson has backed Sam Smith to handle the pressure of wearing Oxford United’s No 9 shirt after finally getting the deal over the line.

A season-long loan move had been in the pipeline for several weeks, but was reliant on parent club Reading signing a replacement.

That finally went through with Sam Baldock’s transfer to the Madejski Stadium on Monday night.

And while Smith is just 20, with just 11 senior appearances to his name, Robinson had no hesitation when asked whether his new recruit was ready to lead the line.

He said: “When you play up front you’re constantly burdened with pressure.

“You get the accolades when you score and you get the negative press when you miss a chance.

“But he’s got big enough shoulders, he’s a bright, intelligent man.

“Sam was our No 1 target when we broke up in the summer – he was top on my board in the list of No 9s.

“He might not be as well-known as some of the other ones, but I think if people know their football they will have known about Sam Smith for a while.

“This could be the year he really does make his name.”

Smith, who came through the youth ranks at Manchester United before joining Reading in 2016, had plenty of other offers on the table, but Robinson’s sales pitch proved attractive.

He said: “It came down to speaking to the manager and just realised this was the best opportunity.

“He showed me what’s being done at Oxford. I saw the new training ground and looked at the players they’ve brought in.

“I realised they’ve got a great opportunity this season.”

Robinson has a good track record of bringing through strikers, with Baldock one of those he worked with at Milton Keynes Dons.

He said: “There’s the likes of Will Grigg, Sam Baldock, Patrick Bamford, Benik Afobe. I’ve been quite lucky and have had top strikers.

“They’ve gone on to make great careers for themselves. That might have been part of it (Smith’s decision).”

Robinson still wants three more signings this summer, one of which could yet be confirmed before this weekend’s Sky Bet League One opener at Barnsley.