The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By Thomas O’Leary

STRIK­ERS are of­ten near the top of a man­ager’s shop­ping list – and Ox­ford boss Michael Ap­ple­ton ad­mits he’s no dif­fer­ent, de­spite hav­ing two of the League’s most pro­lific play­ers.

Mid­fielder Liam Ser­combe, 25, and ver­sa­tile 23-year-old for­ward Ke­mar Roofe have plun­dered 31 goals be­tween them this term, but the U’s are now suf­fer­ing some­thing of a striker short­age.

Ryan Tay­lor was ruled out for at least six weeks with a groin in­jury he picked up against Bris­tol Rovers last week­end, while Chris Maguire has re­turned to Rother­ham fol­low­ing his sixweek loan spell.

Ap­ple­ton is still hope­ful of bring­ing Maguire back to the club or find­ing an­other striker, if that fails.

“I think he’s quite keen to re­turn, but the ball is ob­vi­ously in Rother­ham’s court,” said Ap­ple­ton.

“As long as dis­cus­sions be­tween him and Rother­ham go well, then hope­fully we’ll ben­e­fit from that.

“Un­for­tu­nately, Ryan [Tay­lor] is strug­gling, though. He’s seen a spe­cial­ist and it could keep him side­lined any­where above six weeks.

“Whether it’s eight or ten, who knows? The re­al­ity is we will be with­out him for a longer pe­riod and the think­ing is that now is the time to maybe freshen things up.”

With Ox­ford right in the pro­mo­tion hunt in League Two, they have found a set­tled start­ing line-up, leav­ing many of their fringe play­ers des­per­ate for game time.

Ap­ple­ton be­lieves there will still be com­ings and go­ings be­fore the Jan­uary trans­fer win­dow shuts.

“There’s still a good week or so to try to get in re­in­force­ments,” he added.

“I think the play­ers to af­fect the XI might need to be fresh play­ers.

“There are also cer­tain play­ers in our squad who de­serve an op­por­tu­nity to try to go and play foot­ball else­where.”

PIC­TURE: Alan Franklin/ Pro Sport

GAME OVER: Birm­ing­ham City mid­fielder Maikel Kieften­beld cel­e­brates his goal

ON LOOK-OUT: Ap­ple­ton

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