IT is January 19 and Oxford United are yet to make their first signing of the transfer window.

The U’s are one of four Sky Bet League One clubs who have not added to their squad, alongside Crewe Alexandra, Ipswich Town and Wycombe Wanderers.

With deadline day less than two weeks away, some fans are understandably getting nervous.

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But it is worth remembering that United did not announce their first signing of last year's window until January 29, when Luke McNally arrived from St Patrick’s Athletic for an undisclosed fee.

They then added loanees Joe Grayson, Elliot Lee and Brandon Barker on deadline day.

If you compare this January window with the previous three under Karl Robinson, some patterns start to emerge.

In 2019, United had made three of their five signings by this point, with Mark Sykes, Jordan Graham and Ahmed Kashi all arriving.

It was a similar story the following year as Nathan Holland, Liam Kelly, Marcus Browne and Rob Atkinson all joined in the first nine days of the window. George Thorne was the only new recruit after that point.

In both seasons, United made multiple signings before any players left the club, but 2021 was different.

Most of the January arrivals came once first-team players had departed, with Joel Cooper and Sean Clare leaving on loan early in the month and Jordan Obita leaving for Wycombe on the 29th.

Admittedly, the latter’s move followed McNally’s – that went through 24 hours after the Chairboys made contact, whereas the U’s had been chasing the young Irish centre back for a while.

But like last season, United are leaving their business later this month – so why is that?

Read also: Karl Robinson expects late business in January transfer window

Firstly, as Robinson has already alluded to, this January window is different.

The wave of postponements that occurred over Christmas due to Covid and injuries appears to have passed, but the U’s head coach previously warned clubs would be reluctant to let players leave.

Robinson predicted a lot of business would be done late in the window and, for United at least, this looks to be the case.

You could also point to the squad cap, which limits League One sides to 22 outfield players over the age of 21.

That was brought in between the 2020 and 2021 January windows. As mentioned above, United did most of their business after creating room in their squad.

The U’s started January 2021 with the full complement of players, so could only make signings after Cooper, Clare and Obita had left, while John Mousinho was de-registered due to his knee surgery.

United are at their limit again this season, so need exits to happen – or to de-register squad members – to create room.

Alternatively, the U’s may well have tried to get business done early, but it has not played out that way.

Whatever the reason behind it, it would be very surprising to see no new additions before the window shuts on January 31.

United’s January business under Karl Robinson (loans in italics)



  • January 29: Luke McNally.
  • February 1: Joe Grayson, Elliot Lee, Brandon Barker.


  • January 1: Joel Cooper.
  • January 12: Sean Clare.
  • January 29: Jordan Obita
  • February 1: Derick Osei.



  • January 8: Nathan Holland, Liam Kelly.
  • January 9: Marcus Browne, Rob Atkinson*.
  • January 22: George Thorne.


  • January 16: Jordan Archer.
  • January 24: Rob Hall.
  • January 31: Shandon Baptiste, Tariqe Fosu.



  • January 2: Mark Sykes, Jordan Graham
  • January 17: Ahmed Kashi.
  • January 31: Jerome Sinclair.
  • February 1: Jonte Smith.


  • January 3: Tony McMahon.
  • January 15: Charlie Raglan.
  • January 18: Cameron Norman
  • January 30: Tsun-Dai.