KARL Robinson is upbeat that Herbie Kane will stay at Oxford United beyond January.

The midfielder’s loan from Barnsley lasts until the end of the season, but he can be recalled during the winter transfer window.

Kane has become an ever-present for the U’s since reaching full fitness, starting their last 11 Sky Bet League One matches.

And Robinson, who said earlier this season that the 23-year-old ‘holds the key’ to United gaining promotion to the Sky Bet Championship, was positive about holding on to the loanee.

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The U’s head coach said: “He’s a top player, it’s a necessity Herbie Kane stays here. I can’t speak too much of him.

“I don’t foresee why he won’t be here. We’ve had a meeting and everything seems positive.

“They (Barnsley) have got to do what they’ve got to do, but we’re very confident that he’ll be here moving forward from January.”

United could try to sign Kane permanently, but he would command a sizeable fee.

The midfielder’s contract at Barnsley runs until summer 2024, having moved from Liverpool for £1.25m in October 2020.

The Oakwell outfit’s position in the Championship table could well be a factor in their decision.

Just six months after competing in the play-offs, Barnsley are eight points from safety and only above Derby County – who have been deducted 21 points – in the table.

Midfield has been identified as one of the key areas of weakness for The Tykes, who appointed Spaniard Poya Asbaghi as manager earlier this month.

Kane made 27 appearances for Barnsley last season, although 19 were as a substitute, before sustaining an injury in March.

It is no coincidence that United’s good form has coincided with the midfielder getting up to speed, with Robinson’s side picking up 21 points from the 11 matches he has started.

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Kane has brought the best out of several teammates, including Cameron Brannagan.

The pair progressed through Liverpool’s academy together and United’s No 8 is enjoying being on the same pitch again.

Brannagan said: “I love him to pieces on and off the pitch.

“You can see his performances are getting better every week, he’s a great player.

“His eye for a pass is quality, everyone can see that.

“He knows how I work and he’s aggressive which makes it even better. Long may that continue.”