By Adam Ellis
Oxford United goalkeeper Simon Eastwood has outlined his hopes of earning promotion to the Championship, after signing a new two-and-a-half year deal at the League One club.
The U’s are one of six clubs in reach of Millwall, who hold the last play-off spot (6th) in the table, following a run of four victories in their last five league matches under head coach Michael Appleton.
And after leaving Blackburn Rovers last summer to seek the no.1 shirt elsewhere, the 27-year-old believes a return to the EFL’s top tier can be achieved during his extended stay at the Kassam Stadium.
“I think I can play higher and so can this team,” Eastwood told the Oxford Mail.
“We believe we’re going to be there or thereabouts this season, or even next season. The team’s looking good and we’re definitely pushing to get into the play-offs.
“The lads want to play in the Championship, that’s where I want to be playing week-in, week-out. I’ve committed because I believe that can happen with Oxford.”
The U’s have seamlessly adapted to League One following promotion last season and lie four points off the play-offs, with the likes of Rochdale, Southend and Peterborough for company.
But should they fall short come the end of April, Appleton is nonetheless looking to secure the futures of other first-team regulars ready to go again in 2018.
Attacking winger Chris Maguire has played in every league game so far this season; contributing towards 14 goals in 29 games, and, with his contract due to expire in June, Appleton asserted the club’s need to tie down the Scot.
“We’re in discussions with two or three others,” Appleton said.
“You know what it’s like, when agents get involved it becomes a bit difficult and takes time. We have to be patient. Some you win, some you lose.
“We’ve got a budget and a wage structure just like anyone and we’ll be sensible. We’ll reward the people who deserve it, but we won’t get played by anybody, whether he’s been here a week or two years.”