There are three new faces at Oxford United with the signings of Armani Little, Brandon Taverner and Steven Johnson-Fikula
Armani, 21, is a product of the famous Southampton Academy, which he joined as a 12-year-old . A creative midfielder, he captained the Under-18s side for the Saints before stepping up in to their under 21 side.
Brandon, a centre forward, impressed on trial towards the end of the season when he scored in a development game for the U’s. After impressing as a 17-year-old he won a scholarship with the FCV Academy where he has been a regular scorer and earned his chance to join the new under 23 side at Oxford.
He will be joined in that new squad by Steven Johnson-Fikula, a centre-half from Mansfield. The 18-year-old is a tall, strong, left-side centre-half and a player that Under 23 coach Chris Allen is looking forward to working with:
“They are all really talented young lads who we feel have the ability and attitude to make a real impact here” Chris said. “Armani is that step ahead in terms of experience and games played and I am sure will be part of Karl’s first team plans, but it is all about building for the future and getting that right mix of potential as well as the experienced senior players. We look forward to seeing all three players develop.”
Dan Harris, United’s Head of Academy explained how the signings fit in to the new structure at United:
“Today is a positive day and is a real statement of intent that hopefully shows how serious Tiger and the board are about building a strong and progressive football club. As Chris said, Armani is probably that one stage ahead of the other lads we’ve signed so far, but the challenge for him now is to fight his way into Karl’s plans over the course of the coming months.
“The under 23 side is designed to create an opportunity that allows the club to continue bringing players through from the youth system - players like Shandon Baptiste or the five lads stepping up from being scholars. We've set the programme under the Youth Development framework to help us ensure we’re joined up in our player development and I know Chris Allen is excited to get to work with this new group. Brandon & Steven really come in with something to prove and we look forward to seeing how they develop over the course of the season.
“The u23s is a flexible model - you may see some of the under 18s playing in the Development side, or you may see senior players getting game time or coming back from injury. But the key thing is that this development squad adheres to the same standards that we expect from all levels at the club. We want it to be the model that other clubs look at with envious eyes, and I am sure that the three new lads will be fantastic additions.”
See interviews with all three players in iFollow.