IT IS almost two decades since Jordan Obita first had the chance to join Oxford United, but now he is in a hurry to make up for lost time.

Having grown up close to the Kassam Stadium, he had trials with the U’s but ended up joining Reading.

That decision paid off as the two clubs quickly went in opposite directions, while Obita steadily worked his way through the Royals’ academy.

“I was at Reading from a very young age and grew up in school here, so I used to get a bit of stick,” Obita, who signed for United as a free agent yesterday, said.

“It was a family decision to go to Reading. To go through their whole academy and break into the first team was something which was really pleasing for us.

“I did really well at Reading and my time came up to move on.

“I’m glad I’ve come to a club that’s local and a team that really wants me to do well here.”

Obita made his debut for Reading at 16, but took nearly three years to appear regularly for the side.

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In between he had loan spells at Barnet, Gillingham, Portsmouth and Oldham Athletic to learn the ropes.

Even with that apprenticeship, the left back was released this summer having made just under 200 appearances for the Berkshire club.

It would easily have been far higher, but for a knee injury sustained against Hull City in 2017.

That took two years and three operations to put right before he could return at the start of last season.

The lay-off may explain why a player who had a good level of experience in the Championship – and is still only 26 – was a free agent until yesterday.

But Obita believes he has proved his fitness over the past year, making 26 appearances for Reading.

He said: “I feel so much fitter than I have previously.

“I’ve worked hard over the off-season and I’ve been training really well here.

“It was just one problem I had which didn’t get solved as quickly as I wanted.

“For me to come to a club that wanted me from day one is a massive plus, because they’ve shown faith.”

He added: “I could have played more last season, but unfortunately we had three left backs in the squad.

“People were always questioning my fitness, but my availability in training was nearly 100 per cent.

“Now I’m here, I can show everyone exactly how fit I am.”

U’s boss Karl Robinson believes Obita’s injury might have scared some other clubs off.

But after putting the versatile left-sided player through a thorough testing regime, they are confident of his condition.

And given he was still playing in July, they do not feel he will take as long to get up to speed as fellow signing Sam Winnall, who has been held up by several niggles.

Robinson said: “Jordan’s done more in the build-up to this (than Winnall).

“He feels in a place where he’s fit and ready to go.

“We’ll trust his judgement and what we’ve seen in the medical.”

He added: “He’s a bit like Garbs (Luke Garbuttt).

“His crossing is outstanding, so we’ve got a real technician in the wide left area.”