A STRIKER has been at the top of most Oxford United fans’ wish lists for a considerable amount of time now.

That desire heightened in May when it was announced club legend Matty Taylor would be leaving the U’s upon the expiry of his contract.

Whether Mark Harris fills the striker-shaped gap in United’s squad remains to be seen, however it is certainly a step in the right direction.

READ ALSO: Oxford United sign forward following Championship exit

Harris ticks a lot of boxes, with his speed and work rate viewed as two of his key attributes.

United certainly didn’t lack hard work in the final third last season, when the effervescent Kyle Joseph was in the team, however pace was certainly devoid.

Far too often, the U’s were lethargic and slow in attack, and lacked real quality from wide areas.

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That changed once Liam Manning came in and had made a solid foundation to build on, as the likes of Joseph, Billy Bodin, Marcus Browne, Tyler Goodrham and Josh Murphy thrived with the shackles off.

Joseph has returned to Swansea City after his loan spell with United – although the Swans’ pursuit of Blackpool striker Jerry Yates may well demote Joseph in the pecking order and open the opportunity for him to return to Oxfordshire.

Regardless of whether that happens, having a player in the mould of Joseph is certainly no bad thing for a squad to have.

Like Joseph, Harris arrives having played at a higher level in Sky Bet Championship, while the fact Cardiff City offered him a fresh deal says enough about how much they rated him.

Harris also boasts experience of international football with Wales, while at 24, he has plenty of learning in him and time to improve.

Of course, like any signing, there will be potential negatives.

Some will see Harris’ versatility as a cause for concern – is he a wide player, a centre forward or is he best playing off the main striker?

A main man up front is the position that desperately needs filling in the final third, and it’s arguable Harris doesn’t fulfil that.

Although the number nine adorned his training gear in the photos shared by the club for his signing announcement, whether he plays there is a different matter.

His goal record meanwhile doesn’t leap off the page, having netted 10 times in 95 appearances for Cardiff, but what has to be factored in is that 52 of those games were as a substitute.

Plus, of the three goals he bagged last season, two of them were winners in 1-0 victories for the Bluebirds.

The likelihood is that Manning will be still be on the hunt for another striker, with Harris in the building to complement the current attacking options available to the U’s head coach.

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About the author

To sign up to Liam’s latest Oxford United newsletter for free, click here: https://www.oxfordmail.co.uk/newsletters/

Formerly the politics reporter for the Oxford Mail, Liam now covers all things Oxford United.

Liam attends the U’s home and away, as well as covering other big sports stories across the county.

His Oxford United newsletter is released every Saturday morning at 6am.