KARL Robinson is relishing the prospect of adding Cameron Brannagan and Sam Winnall to Oxford United’s options.

Both players came through an in-house game at the U’s training ground on Friday as they edged closer to a return to action.

Winnall has not featured since sustaining a hamstring injury against Crewe Alexandra on November 17, but is expected to make the squad for the Boxing Day visit of AFC Wimbledon.

Brannagan’s absence has been much more complex after he suffered a rare eye inflammation in October, meaning United will continue to carefully manage his comeback.

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The midfielder was one of the U’s most influential players as they reached last season’s Sky Bet League One play-off final, while Winnall is a proven goalscorer in the third tier, but the pair have made just 13 appearances between them this campaign.

United head coach Robinson feels the duo’s lack of action can be a positive and believes it will be like having two new signings.

He said: “I think Sam Winnall would get into arguably every team in this league.

“I’m sure no managers would say no to having him in their squad.

“Cameron Brannagan is one of the best midfielders in League One, so it’s not like you’re getting two players back who don’t make an impact.

“They’ve got a real reputation, as well as talent.

“They’re coming back extremely hungry and if they can stay fit we’ll get better.”

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The U’s are back in training today after the postponement of Saturday’s trip to Bristol Rovers gave them a weekend off.

By the time United play Wimbledon on Saturday, Brannagan could be their only absentee.

The 24-year-old feared he could go blind after being hospitalised in October with impaired vision, but staff at the John Radcliffe Hospital saved his sight.

The former Liverpool trainee was put on a course of steroids to treat the inflammation.

This meant Brannagan was unable to train with the rest of the U’s squad due to a weakened immune system, especially with the risk of catching coronavirus.

He returned to training three weeks ago and has gradually been building up his intensity, enabling him to play 20 minutes of Friday’s practice match.

But Robinson explained United will wait for Brannagan’s dose of steroids to be reduced before he can even think about returning to the first team.

He said: “The more it has a toll on your body the more the fatigue element will kick in very quickly.

“Recovery will be harder as your body doesn’t like steroids.

“Being on steroids as a professional athlete is very difficult on his sleep pattern, and so on and so forth.

“There’s a lot of things he wishes he could do that he can’t quite do just yet.

“Other than that we’re extremely happy.”