CANICE Carroll says his return to Oxfordshire is ‘meant to be’, and is eyeing up promotion this season with Oxford City.

The midfielder joined the Hoops in August on a one-year deal, following a successful trial.

Carroll came through Oxford United’s youth system and since then, his career has taken in Brentford, Swindon Town and Queen’s Park in Scotland.

The 22-year-old, from Kidlington, made his debut when he was 16, in a Johnstone’s Paint Trophy win at Dagenham & Redbridge in November 2015.

Now settled in at City, Carroll scored his first goal for the club earlier this month in the 2-0 win at home to Dulwich Hamlet.

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Carroll said: “A lot of things have happened outside of football and you’ll hear a lot of people talk about outside of football is more important first.

“Being home was important for me, it was a massive bonus that Oxford City was local to me.

“I know the gaffer, I know Ballard [Andy, assistant manager] so it kind of fell into place.

“I think things are meant to be with that sort of stuff.

“I’ve loved every minute since I’ve joined, so I’m over the moon to be here and loving football.”

Carroll played 25 games in total for the U’s, scoring his only goal in a 3-2 defeat at Bradford City in December 2017.

Oxford Mail: Canice Carroll celebrates his goal against Bradford City. Picture: David FlemingCanice Carroll celebrates his goal against Bradford City. Picture: David Fleming

Carroll joined Brentford for an undisclosed fee on transfer deadline day in August 2018, but did not make an appearance for the then Sky Bet Championship club.

There were loan spells at Swindon, Carlisle United and Stevenage, before Carroll moved north of the border to Queen’s Park last season.

He made 14 appearances as the Scottish League Two side won the title.

In addition to getting back to his roots, achieving promotion was another influence which enticed Carroll to City.

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He said: “That was one of the big factors.

“I was at Queen’s Park last year and I got a promotion – you don’t get promoted a lot in football, so that was a massive thing for me.

“It’s going to be hard getting out of this league, but I think we can do it.

“I want to be at a club on the up and trying to win stuff, not just wasting my time.”

City will be looking to put the weekend’s 4-1 defeat to St Albans City in the FA Trophy behind them when they host Ebbsfleet United tonight.

The visitors are second in Vanarama National League South and boss David Oldfield is well aware how strong an opponent they will be.

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He said: “It’s a very challenging fixture against one of the better teams in the league.

“It’s a real challenge for us but an opportunity for us to test ourselves, it’s a full-time club with big ambition.

“We haven’t had many evening games and that does give a different feel to the place.”

Oldfield said his team has a point to prove following the FA Trophy exit.

He said: “We’ve got something to prove to make sure we’re ready.

“We need to do better, there’s no doubt about that.

“It’s about making the right decisions and being as purposeful as we possibly can be in and out of possession.

“I don’t think we did enough of that on Saturday.”