I HAVE said before that a successful January transfer window for Oxford United is, in my view, one where there are no major departures.

The squad clearly has the quality and depth to compete at the top of Sky Bet League One, so it was great to see Herbie Kane’s stay confirmed last week.

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But it is not just about keeping players who could leave during this window.

There has been plenty of chat about contracts over the last few days, with Mark Sykes telling us January is ‘massive’ as he enters the last six months of his deal.

The midfielder is one of nine senior players in the final year of their deals, while another four are due to end their season-long loans.

United’s board has already shown this window that signings are not the only way to back the club, having paid a fee to prevent Kane being recalled by Barnsley.

The midfielder is one of four loanees, alongside Gavin Whyte, Nathan Holland and Jordan Thorniley.

That quartet, as well as the out-of-contract Sykes and Elliott Moore, should be approaching their best years: Whyte, 26 this month, is the oldest of those six and all have been regular starters for most of the season.

So why not focus on tying players like these down to long-term or permanent deals, rather than new signings?

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Additions in some positions would be welcome too, but if those players leave this summer - which will happen, as things stand - it will be very tough to replace them in one transfer window.

United know they fit the mould, so ensuring some of them are still there next season could be the most important deals they do this month.