Oxford United are interested in Brighton left-back Alex Cochrane as a potential replacement for Josh Ruffels, BBC Oxford Sport have revealed.
Ruffels – who has made over 300 appearances in all competitions for the U’s – is out of contract at The Kassam Stadium this summer.
Recent reports from The Athletic have claimed that Championship side Nottingham Forest are interested in a move for the 27-year-old, and it now seems as though Oxford are putting plans in place in case Ruffels does move on this summer.
Can you get 21/21 on this quiz every Nottingham Forest fan should get 100% on?
According to this latest update, Ruffels has yet to agree to a new deal with Oxford, and the club have identified Brighton’s Cochrane as a potential replacement for the left-back.
Cochrane has made just two senior appearances for Brighton, both of which have come in the League Cup, with the full-back making seven appearances on-loan at Belgian second-tier side Union SG last season, before injury ended his campaign in February.
Eastleigh left-back Joe Tomlinson, who scored 12 goals in 41 National League appearances last season, is also said to be an option Oxford could consider to replace Ruffels.
However, it is thought that Oxford manager Karl Robinson would like to keep Ruffels at The Kassam Stadium for next season if possible.
Oxford Utd consider potential replacements for left back Josh Ruffels with 27 year old out of contract and still to sign new deal. Brighton’s Alex Cochrane & Eastleigh’s Joe Tomlinson among those believed to be on radar. #oufc boss Karl Robinson thought still keen to keep Ruffels pic.twitter.com/Krm5jOWBVy
— BBC Oxford Sport (@bbcoxfordsport) June 3, 2021
This does seem to be encouraging for Nottingham Forest with regards to their pursuit of Ruffels.
The fact that the left-back has yet to sign a new deal with Oxford, and the League One club’s willingness to look for potential replacements, means that there could be an opportunity for Forest here.
From Oxford’s perspective, you can understand why they will want to keep a long-serving player such as Ruffels given his ability and influence for the club.
However, given both Cochrane and Tomlinson are at the early stages of their career, and have yet to be tested at this sort of level, there may be something of a risk if it is to be one of those two players they move for to replace Ruffels in their squad.