Oxford United couldn’t quite make it to the promised land of the Championship last season but they won’t want to miss out again.
Despite being right up near the League One play-off spots for the majority of the last campaign, they fell away when it really mattered and ended up finishing in eighth. It left them seven points adrift of sixth-placed Wycombe.
The squad has quality, as proven by their ability to consistently challenge at the right end of the third tier. However, improvements will need to be made this summer to take them to that next level.
They’ve already made one addition to their squad – and with more likely to come, here is their best starting eleven on paper as things stand.
The only addition that the club have made so far is the permanent signing of Ciaron Brown on a deal from Cardiff. He spent time with Oxford last season and played both on the left and centrally and would likely slot in as a CB here.
Oxford might not play in this 3-4-1-2 formation – they’ve often utilised a 4-3-3 as well – but the 3-4-1-2 might be the way forward. They used it against Doncaster and although they didn’t get the win, there were signs of promise to take from the formation.
One such ‘sign of promise’ was Billy Bodin who, used as a ten, was arguably the best player on the pitch and bagged his side’s goal. He managed only 21 league outings last term but nine goal contributions show the possibility of what he can be capable of with more action so could get the nod going forward.
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Matty Taylor has been as reliable as ever so should start in front of him and with Gavin Whyte departed, they may be forced to currently use James Henry in a striker role rather than his favoured wing position.
In midfield, if they can keep Cameron Brannagan then he would certainly get a spot in the side alongside Marcus McGuane, who didn’t start too often last season but would probably get the nod currently. Steve Seddon and Sam Long were both mainstays in the team too and whilst the latter might not be used to playing as more of a RWB, it is a role on a flank he is familiar with and he could adapt with ease if they don’t make another signing and do indeed use this formation.
At the back, Luke McNally may very well end up at Burnley but for now he is still with Oxford and therefore gets a place in the side. Newboy Brown will feature too, as will Elliott Moore who managed just over 30 league appearances for Oxford last season. To round out the XI, Jack Stevens retains his place as their number one.