MICHAEL Appleton is working hard on convincing Conor McAleny that Oxford United is the best route back to the Premier League.

A classy double in the 3-0 win at Millwall on Saturday took the forward to ten goals from 14 starts since joining on loan in January.

It will mean the 24-year-old is not short of offers this summer, when his contract at Everton expires.

When asked about his future last week, McAleny felt United were an option but he would not rush what is a crucial decision.

Appleton knows the likelihood is the U’s will be up against clubs who are either in the Sky Bet Championship, or can outbid them financially.

But the head coach, just as he did before Callum O’Dowda moved on to Bristol City last summer, has been quick to stress the size of a contract should be only one element under consideration.

He said: “Money is one thing, but it’s not everything.

“Being comfortable in the right place and making sure you’re playing most weeks (is important).

“I hope I’m not speaking out of turn, but that was the point I was trying to make to Callum – if he had stayed for one more season he would’ve missed the Championship out in my opinion.

“That’s the point I’m trying to make to players – if you stay that one year you miss that one move out and go to the big one straight away.

“Hopefully that will be the case with Conor.”

Appleton has put forward United’s case strongly to McAleny, although it is not straightforward.

He said: “Conor’s a bit complex at times and I mean that in the nicest way.

“He does his own thing and he will have offers.

“You just have to weigh everything up as a footballer.”

While it is an argument United are using to recruit players, the same also applies to hanging on to assets within his squad.

There has been speculation about Marvin Johnson already and the winger is unlikely to be the only U’s player linked with a move away.

For Appleton, the reason for McAleny returning is exactly the same for his star names.

He said: “Whether they agree and go for it not, but I genuinely believe I’m right.

“I think certain players who do move on might kick themselves in the long term.”