OXFORD United’s investment to set up an under 23 squad is beginning to reap rewards, according to Karl Robinson.

The creation this summer of a group aimed at bridging the gap between youth and senior football involved sacrificing some of the first-team’s budget.

But just three months into the season, United have handed debuts to four teenagers.

Harvey Bradbury and Aaron Heap came on in Tuesday’s Checkatrade Trophy victory at Wycombe Wanderers, following in the footsteps of Fabio Lopes and Slavi Spasov.

Shandon Baptiste has also emerged as a star of the future after making his first start this season.

And Robinson, who has a reputation for developing young players, believes the extra opportunities offered by the new side are paying dividends.

He said: “We took a bit of money off our squad and the chairman put more money in.

“It would be interesting to ask the fans what they would prefer – an under 23 squad that gives us the ability to promote from within over a period of time, or buying another striker?

“You have to weigh those options up and when I sat down with the chairman I’d rather have a 23s.

“People might be frustrated with that, but when you have people like we have, the future is bright for Oxford United.”

Both Heap and Bradbury started in a 1-1 friendly draw with RSM yesterday.

It served as a warm-up for their visit to Hull City next Monday in the Premier League Cup.

Chris Allen’s side won their opener against Swansea City last month.

To fill the new squad in the summer United went out to recruit young talent, but one fell in their lap.

Bradbury came up against the U’s in a pre-season friendly when on loan from Watford at Hungerford Town.

And Robinson was instantly impressed – both by the striker’s ability to hassle his centre halves and his attitude.

He said: “Sometimes the eye tells you enough.

“He told me to shut up after 25 minutes and I thought ‘I like you’.

“When I confronted him in the tunnel he stood his ground and I thought ‘I like you even more’.

“He’s 19 so there’s more growth to come. We’re excited by him.”