Oxford United are continuing to send a number of their promising youngsters out on loan into the non-league pyramid to gain valuable experience of Senior Football.
With the Covid-19 pandemic clearly meaning that training bubbles have to be kept "secure," the opportunity for a number of young players from the Under 21 programme to join forward-thinking clubs at Step 1 and 2 means that they are still able to continue to develop whilst staying in line with EFL and government safety guidelines.
Defender Nico Jones has joined full-time outfit Havant and Waterlooville on loan until the end of the season, teaming up with midfielder Leon Chambers-Parillon who is already there. Both could feature in Havant’s FA Trophy quarter final against Notts County at the weekend.
Left-back Michael Elechi could also be helping a club take a big step towards Wembley. Michael has joined Oxford City on loan ahead of their FA Trophy quarter-final against Peterborough Sports on Saturday.
Slavi Spasov and Kyran Lofthouse continue to impress in the National League at Woking, along with senior player Malachi Napa, while forward Jack Stevens is also out on loan at Conference South side Chippenham Town.
Goalkeeper Kie Plumley and winger Tyler Goodrham have now been moved to the Covid-secure under 18s training bubble: Tyler is fit again after twelve weeks on the sidelines whilst Kie will be able to get some valuable game time with Eddie Brearey now training on a daily basis in the First Team Covid bubble.
Academy Manager Dan Harris told us:
"Clearly with the ongoing challenge of Covid, there is a real need to ensure that everyone across all parts of the programme stays safe and well.
"It isn't viable for young players to be going backwards and forwards between squads and clubs at present so the opportunity to go out on a good quality loan is an important next step for these teenagers.
"If we look at the pathway of players like Ben Davies who has just joined Liverpool from Preston; Shandon Baptiste who moved on to Brentford from the club here at Oxford and Sam Long and Jack Stevens who are playing regularly here now, multiple loans have played a key part in all of their development pathways.
"Obviously there's some uncertainty around the National League at present but, whatever happens, the opportunity to be around senior players on a regular basis is an important part of these young players pathway as they take the next step forward in their development."