THE transfer window is now open and Oxford United have managed to get ahead of the game already.

The signing of Ruben Rodrigues feels like a statement one, when the quality of the player and reported queue to get his signature are factored in.

With the domestic market opening today and a signing through the door, we had a look at what else United could do before the window shuts at 11pm on September 1.

READ AGAIN: Oxford United fend off interest from rivals to make first signing of summer


The U’s are already well-stocked in goal with three goalkeepers at different stages of their career already in the building.

Rookie stopper Ed McGinty and the experienced Simon Eastwood balance each other nicely, with the only possible question mark being that over Jack Stevens.

Having spent last season on loan at Port Vale, the 25-year-old has to prove himself to U’s head coach Liam Manning.

Furthermore, whether Manning seeks someone comfortable with the ball at his feet, such as Chelsea’s Jamie Cumming, who he worked with on loan at MK Dons, will be of interest.

That then obviously would mean a decision would have to be made on one of the three senior goalkeepers already at the club.

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Another position in which the U’s have good numbers, with Stuart Findlay, Elliott Moore, James Golding and Stephan Negru all at centre half, while Ciaron Brown and Sam Long are flexible at the back.

Steve Seddon is set to return to the fold after half a season on loan at Cambridge United, but with Djavan Anderson leaving, pace and width at the back may be an area to target.

It is likely Manning will demand further adaptability from the 4-2-3-1 we saw at the back end of last season, so tenacious wing backs with quality in the final third may well be on the club’s wish list, thus allowing the side to play three at the back.

Similarly to the goalkeeping department, whether ball-players are brought in at centre back will also be something to keep an eye on.

If so, a one in and one out situation is likely to take place among the central defenders.


A strong core of Cameron Brannagan, James Henry, Josh Johnson, Marcus McGuane and Oisin Smyth offer various different qualities but a natural holding midfielder still seems an area that will be looked at by the United recruitment team.

Alex Gorrin is being given the time to return to fitness, however that does not seem the long-term solution.

Brannagan and McGuane formed an effective double pivot last season under Manning, however both of those are more suited to doing damage at the other end of the pitch, something a sitting midfielder would allow them to do.

Johnson and Smyth will possibly be looked at in the destructive midfield role during pre-season, but an experienced head would probably be desirable, allowing the duo to develop their own game, having already shown glimpses of what they are capable of.


The arrival of Rodrigues injects fresh optimism after the troubles in the final third last season.

He will surely start more games than not, while Billy Bodin, Marcus Browne and Tyler Goodrham have all shown what they can do around the penalty box, so will likely be given the chance to do so next season.

It was a frustrating debut campaign for both Josh Murphy and Yanic Wildschut, however the former was on song at the end of the season and that should be something for him to build on.

If those two can stay fit and get firing, their experience and quality should shine through and the U’s can then benefit from all the above and their various different attacking outlets.

More quality is certainly needed up front though, where a striker or two would not go amiss, with Sam Baldock and Gatlin O’Donkor the current options at Manning’s disposal.

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About the author

To sign up to Liam’s latest Oxford United newsletter for free, click here:

Formerly the politics reporter for the Oxford Mail, Liam now covers all things Oxford United.

Liam attends the U’s home and away, as well as covering other big sports stories across the county.

His Oxford United newsletter is released every Saturday morning at 6am.