PUBLIC opinion among Oxford United supporters will be a factor in whether Nile Ranger is offered a contract, according to Karl Robinson.

The free agent striker has been training with the squad for three weeks as he bids to prove himself.

Robinson has been pleased with the 27-year-old so far, but is well aware he is a controversial figure after a career plagued by off-field trouble which included a ten-week stay in prison last year after admitting online banking fraud.

The head coach believes it will be a very difficult decision, but admitted the view from the terraces would be taken into consideration.

“Yes, because they’re good people and they’re very proud of the history of their club,” he said.

“You don’t want to tarnish that, but it’s hard for Nile because he can’t go and have a cup of tea with all these people and get to know them either.

“He’s only ever going to judged on what you read.

“Since he’s been here his timekeeping has been impeccable.

“It’s whether or not that continues, that’s the question.

“I don’t read social media so I don’t know what the consensus is outside of the training ground – it would be interesting to know what that would be.”

He added: “This is not a decision I’m taking lightly.

“It has to be right for the club first and foremost and he has to fall in with the morals and personal standards that I believe this club should uphold.

“But at the same time I don’t like pre-judging people without getting to know somebody, regardless of the past.

“If you’ve served your sentence, you should be judged on who you are today.

“We just need to have a really good think and then a conversation to see what materialises.”

Robinson revealed last month Ranger, who has not played a competitive game since his last contract was terminated by Southend United in January over disciplinary issues, had approached the U’s for a chance.

Part of United’s decision to agree was due to the fact they are in need of more firepower following Jon Obika’s season-ending injury.

The treatment room has grown even busier since Ranger arrived, but Robinson was clear the squad’s fitness problems would not play a role in forcing a contract offer.

He said: “I can’t allow unforeseen circumstances allow me to make a structural decision.

“I’ll play young players if I don’t think it’s right.”