SINCE the end of January, we have gone into every Oxford United match looking at the gap to the Sky Bet League One play-offs.

But back-to-back defeats over Easter have shifted the focus to next season.

The U’s are within range of the top six, however the form of sides above them means they could win their last seven games and still miss out.

Even if promotion is not realistic this year, it is still vitally important United end this campaign strongly.

Karl Robinson: We cannot lose key players this summer

There are reasons to blood youngsters such as Leon Chambers-Parillon and Luke McNally, but only off the bench for now.

Karl Robinson should keep playing his strongest line-up, as a positive end to the campaign will feed into the next one.

Look at United’s last three successful seasons: the promotions in 2009/10 and 2015/16 and last year’s near miss all followed strong finishes to the previous campaign.

This was not just down to momentum, but also because the U’s were more attractive to new recruits who wanted to join a club going in the right direction.

It may seem like these last seven games have lost their edge, but they are important down the line.