SIGNING players earlier in the summer will help Oxford United avoid repeating the mistakes of last year, according to boss Karl Robinson.

While the head coach admits top-quality loan signings in attacking areas may not be available until late in pre-season, there will be a drive to make progress elsewhere before the end of June.

United’s campaign was blighted by a wretched start, with patchy recruitment partly responsible.

Of the ten senior players signed, only three were confirmed before the tour to Ireland.

Robinson, who had wanted to strike early last summer, said: “I think the problem last year was we signed 25 per cent of our squad leading up to the season and some of them weren’t fit.

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“Looking back it was obvious what the start was going to be like, especially with how competitive the games were.

“We sat here last year and we were waiting a long time for Ricky (Holmes), Marcus Browne, Jamie Mackie and Jamie Hanson.

“It’s something we want to get done and over the line (this time).

“We hope the players here now will hit the ground running.

“Look at the players who did pre-season with us, they stood the test of time and their injury record was minimal.”

Robinson is looking for a right back, a left-sided centre back, two holding midfield players and up to four attackers before the window shuts at the start of September.

There are big benefits to getting players in early to allow the team to gel, but that can cost more.

The U’s boss praised his backroom team for drawing up a list of targets, but admits it is not straightforward to get signings done in the next few weeks.

“That’s the problem – we all want to deal,” he said. “Tiger (United’s chairman Sumrith Thanakarnjanasuth) is a businessman and loves doing deals.

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“We’ve just got to make sure we’re a little more detailed in what we’re going to do.”

The area where most patience is required is the loan market.

Although there are no plans to carry as many as the six temporary signings they had this season, it will be a key area to get right – with Robinson indicating he would like to bring back Jerome Sinclair, Ahmed Kashi and Luke Garbutt.

He said: “We do know who we want, we are speaking to Premier League clubs.

“Those loan deals are the X Factor players, the ones you can’t afford.

“They are generally in your wide areas, or your goalscoring areas and are generally the last ones you bring in.”