THERE are enough unknowns at the start of a season without the threat of one of your most influential players leaving the club.

The change in mood generated by a busy week in the transfer market was dashed by Cameron Brannagan’s potential move to Blackpool – and then restored when the midfielder signed a new deal.

We will never know whether Oxford United's No 8 ever truly wanted to leave, but for much of Thursday it appeared he was on his way.

READ MORE: Cameron Brannagan signs new Oxford United contract

Brannagan's new contract will give the U's a huge boost going into today's season-opening clash at Derby County, a club riding a wave of their own following their recent takeover.

It makes it even tougher to predict how United will fare this afternoon - or in the campaign ahead.

One thing we can be confident about is that Karl Robinson’s side will continue to entertain.

United have plenty of firepower, with Matty Taylor supported by the likes of Marcus Browne, Josh Murphy and Jodi Jones on the wings. That is before you factor in Yanic Wildschut and Sam Baldock, who will miss the early part of the season with hamstring and thigh injuries respectively.

Brannagan, Billy Bodin and James Henry offer goals from midfield, while it is a big year for Marcus McGuane as he aims to live up to his huge potential.

It is quite the array of attacking talent, but the U's conceded too many at the other end last term and still need more defensive recruits in the final month of the transfer window.

Stuart Findlay looks a very good signing for this level and Ciaron Brown is both solid and versatile, while James Golding continues to impress.

But United are light in both full-back positions and another defensive midfielder would provide vital security in the centre of the park.

Until those additions are made, a repeat of last season's numbers in both the goals for and against columns looks likely. 

READ MORE: Oxford United MD on Kassam Stadium lease and Stratfield Brake timeline

It is also a big season off the pitch as the U's aim to make progress in their search for a new home.

By this time next year, United will hope to have submitted a planning application for Stratfield Brake and made progress on securing the lease for the sports ground.

The painstaking planning process for a major development means the U's will still be a long way from their potential new home, but they need to move fast with just four seasons left on their Kassam Stadium lease.

The only certainty this season? It will not be dull. It never is with Oxford United.