RYAN Ledson believes Oxford United’s future is bright – despite leaving the club yesterday to join Championship side Preston North End.

The 20-year-old, who made 70 starts for the U’s, put pen-to-paper on a three-year deal, joining for an undisclosed fee – understood to be a substantial six-figure sum.

The former Everton trainee was the subject of a bid from Preston in January.

And although United rejected that approach, retaining the midfielder was always going to be a struggle.

Boss Karl Robinson said earlier this month a move would only happen ‘if it’s something he really wants and is a very heavily-weighted financial package for us’.

But Ledson’s desire to return nearer home and play at a higher level has seen the transfer go through.

United’s player of the year believes he departs with a bright future ahead for supporters.

“It’s exciting to be joining Preston and I’m looking forward to playing in the Championship,” he said. “But I am sad to be leaving Oxford as well.

“It’s been fantastic and the fans there have been great with me so I wanted to thank them for that.”

He added: “I leave with the club in really good hands.

“Karl has come in as manager and definitely got the club moving in the right direction again.

“He has been brilliant with me and I am sure that Oxford United are in for a really exciting time and will be challenging towards the top of the table again next season.”

Robinson admitted that once Preston matched United’s valuation, the writing was on the wall.

“I am sure everyone at the club is sad to see him go because he is an outstanding young man as well as a really good player,” he said.

“Preston have behaved impeccably throughout the process. Once there was interest, we told them a price and they matched it.

“Ryan is very mature and we spoke honestly about what he saw as a chance to move closer to home as well as a chance to prove himself in the Championship.

“We have already started to build for next season.

“We have players in mind who we believe will come in and strengthen our midfield this summer, plus we have some excellent players already at the club who now get the chance to shine in that area.

“I’m sure the fans will join me in thanking Ryan for his time here and we wish him all the best in everything he does in the future.”

Preston boss Alex Neil said: “It is a great signing for us. He has a bright future ahead of him and is the right type of character we want at the club.”