OXFORD United’s strength in depth could be the difference in Sky Bet League One this season, says Karl Robinson.

The U’s made ten changes for their 3-2 win over Tottenham Hotspur Under 21s in the Papa John’s Trophy, with 12 players who were involved at Burton Albion on Saturday given the night off.

Many of those who came in performed well, with Joel Cooper scoring twice and Marcus McGuane, Jamie Hanson and Billy Bodin getting minutes under their belts following illness and injury.

Robinson was watching from home for the final time as he prepares to come out of isolation tomorrow and liked what he saw.

The U’s head coach said: “We’ve built a really competitive team, we’ve always said this is the hardest this league’s ever been.

“We’re not in the same hemisphere as most of the teams who are going to be in the top six.

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“The one thing that could give us the edge is we have a lot of strength in depth and a lot of players who are in form.

“You’ve seen the lads who have been on the periphery doing wonderfully well and I’m really happy for them.”

Cooper’s two goals were his first in a United shirt, 15 months after joining from Northern Irish side Linfield.

The winger has had a difficult time, making just ten appearances and returning to his former club on loan last season while he dealt with personal issues.

Robinson said: “The big components of our wide players are assists and goals, but (also) the turnover ratio, how high and aggressive they can be in the press, how narrow they can play as well.

“It runs the way through the football club.

“He turned the ball over an awful lot and scored two goals, which is brilliant.

“He’s in a really difficult position because our wide players are exceptional and they’re all contributing at this moment in time.”

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It was also a positive evening for United’s academy, as four 17-year-olds got on the pitch.

There was a debut for centre back James Golding as a late substitute, while Gatlin O’Donkor and Josh Anifowose also came off the bench - the latter playing at the Kassam Stadium for the first time.

Josh Johnson, who only turned 17 last month, started in central midfield and grew into the game on his home debut.

Robinson said: “I phoned the staff at half-time, I was really frustrated with JJ.

“As much as you can praise these young players, he also needs to play better than he did in the first 45 minutes.

“He’s young, he’s learning and it’s his first start at home, but it doesn’t bother me – when you have talent, age is just a number.

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“In the second half you’ve seen the JJ we see consistently in training, he’s on the front foot, he turned the ball over more than anyone else, he was aggressive in his passing.

“He makes mistakes because of that, but at least he showed a different side to his game.

“James Golding’s done really well this year, he’s come from nowhere and Josh Anifowose is full of energy.

“He’s one of those players that breaks the game up and makes tackles.

“We know Gatlin’s a powerful young boy, so we’re really happy with the young players and the fact they can come on the pitch in difficult circumstances shows they’re more than capable.

“Hopefully they have a future with us.”