ROB Atkinson is raring to test himself in the Sky Bet Championship after leaving Oxford United for Bristol City.

The centre back's move to The Robins was finalised yesterday as he signed a three-year contract, with the option of a further 12 months.

City had been chasing the 22-year-old for weeks, after his performances in his first Football League season earned rave reviews.

Atkinson now hopes he can settle in the second tier as quickly as he did in Sky Bet League One, where he helped United reach the play-offs in 2020/21.

He told Robins TV: "I'm excited and looking forward to playing in the Championship.

"It's another step-up and I've done plenty of those in my career.

"I'll be attacking it the same as I always have - that's head on, working hard and hopefully it will go just as well as my previous step-ups.

"I've tried to learn from my peers and players in my position, so it's good to hear there's experienced players in my position, the gaffer (Nigel Pearson) being a centre back himself when he played, so I can learn from him too.

"It's not just the centre backs, but the strikers too.

"There's quality up front here and I'm sure in the first few training sessions they'll teach me a thing or two and I can learn from them, so there’s plenty to learn in these first few weeks.”

The former Fulham trainee joined the U’s from Eastleigh last January and was immediately loaned back to the Vanarama National League side.

Atkinson was thrust into United’s first-team when Rob Dickie joined QPR last summer and was sent off at Lincoln City on his Football League debut.

The red card was overturned, but a difficult start to the campaign continued as injuries limited his involvement.

From late November Atkinson was a regular, though, becoming a key member of United’s back four as they climbed away from the League One relegation zone.

He went on to score twice towards the end of the campaign, including in the 3-3 draw at Blackpool in the play-off semi-final second leg, making 44 appearances in all.

Atkinson’s performances saw him named in the division’s team of the season and the Professional Footballers’ Association League One team of the year.

City’s interest became public three days after the play-off semi-final second leg and they lodged a bid in excess of £1.4million last month.

The final figure is understood to be upwards of the £1.6million reported elsewhere, excluding add-ons.

It does mean, however, United have lost two members of last season’s first-choice back four, after Josh Ruffels joined Championship side Huddersfield Town last month.

Irish defender Luke McNally is expected to make the step-up into the first-team and U’s head coach Karl Robinson is confident they can make up for Atkinson’s departure.

He told the club's official website: "He (Atkinson) did really well and we wish him good luck.

"It’s remarkable really - his league debut was at Lincoln on the first day of last season, and he got sent off.

"But he kept working hard, has a great attitude and we hope it goes well for him.

"We have consistently been able to recruit well over the last few years in that position: Rob replaced Rob Dickie, who took over from Curtis Nelson, all of them moving on to the Championship.

"We have players already in the building who will see this as their opportunity and we have plans in place and know where we need to further strengthen between now and the start of the season."