CHRIS Allen is returning to a full-time capacity at Oxford United as the club’s new youth-team coach.

And there can be no better example for aspiring young players than the former Oxford United and Nottingham Forest star.

A local lad, brought up in Blackbird Leys, he rose from the youth ranks with the U’s at the Manor Ground to running out for England Under 21s and playing in the Premiership.

Now 37, Allen has been coaching United’s different age groups at their Centre of Excellence for several years, described it as “a fantastic opportunity” for him.

He will work alongside Les Taylor, who continues as Youth Development Officer.

Allen, who played 179 games for Oxford United before a £500,000 move to Forest in June 1996, said: “It’s fantastic – a great opportunity – and I’m glad to be back at the club working with the youth-team players and scholars.

“I’ve been coaching the Centre of Excellence for six years now, doing all the age groups from the under 9s to the under 16s.”

He added: “You have to have a rapport with the youngsters and I feel I’ve got that, but it will be great also working with the scholars. We’ve got some great kids coming through.”

He will also be assisted by physio Charlie Greig, who is very much part of the youth set-up.

It’s a first step on the ladder of full-time coaching and management, and Allen, who has got his UEFA A licence, makes no bones about the fact that he’s ambitious to go further.

“It is a great opportunity for me,” he said. “In essence, the youth team is professional coaching, you’re working with them full-time and I’m finishing my job working in IT in a pharmaceutical company, to do that.

“I have to see out my last three or four weeks there, but Les Taylor will make sure the youth team are all fine until then.

“I have aspirations in management, so this is a great first step.”

United chairman Kelvin Thomas said: “Chris’s appointment is really exciting. He has lots of enthusiasm and will bring plenty of energy to the role.

“He has a rich Oxford history and was a great fans’ favourite.

“The youth team know that he can add his experience and ideas and will be a great addition and can hopefully help them go on and have great careers.”