MICHAEL Appleton has insisted his return to Oxford United carries no extra significance ahead of Lincoln City's Boxing Day trip to the Kassam Stadium.

It will be his first visit as an opposition manager since calling time on a successful three-year spell in 2017.

After steering the U's to automatic promotion from League Two, Appleton claimed the club's highest finish for almost 20 years in the following campaign, before leaving for the No 2 role at Leicester City.

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Appleton watched United's 6-0 win over Lincoln from the stands after being appointed in September, but is not building up Thursday's clash beyond a battle for three points.

“Honestly, it’s business as usual,” he told Lincolnshire Live. “I had a fantastic time there, three really good years and we were successful.

“But I’m not one for looking back. I’m not a sentimental person.

"I’m Lincoln City manager now and I need to try and focus on what we do rather than Oxford United.

“They’re going to be difficult to beat and I have to make sure our players are fully prepared for that. My focus is on what we do and how we do it.

“I’m sure I’ll share a drink after the game with a few of the (Oxford) staff. But, ultimately, I’m going there to try and make it as difficult as possible for them.”

Karl Robinson expects his opposite number to be given a very warm reception from the home supporters.

He said: "He did a great job here and is still very respected by the fans obviously.

"I’m sure everyone will welcome him back and he’ll get the credit he deserves.

"The greatest respect we’ll show him is by the preparation we show for his team.

"Before and after the respect will be immense, but during we’re there to win.

"I don’t think anyone will forget what he did."