THE signing of Jay Matete came late on deadline day, but it may prove to be one of the most important bits of business for Oxford United.

Since Alex Gorrin suffered the first of two serious knee injuries back in November 2021, the U’s have lacked bite in the middle of the park.

United have attempted to plug the Gorrin gap with a deep-lying playmaker, through the likes of Herbie Kane and Lewis Bate.

Both were brought to the club with reputations as creative, clever and technical players.

But by being asked to play in a deeper position, and with no ‘number six’ next to them, it’s fair to say we never quite saw the best of Kane or Bate.

Kane for example has flourished since returning to Barnsley, not least because he has had Luca Connell and Adam Phillips alongside him, with the duo able to do their share of defensive duties.

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So what does the loan signing of Matete mean for the U’s?

Cameron Brannagan has said that the likes of himself, Marcus McGuane and Ruben Rodrigues will be able to get forward more, which can only be a good thing.

Matete also allows for rotation in midfield. McGuane and Rodrigues have at times this season been a class above, however their form has waned in recent weeks.

United head coach Des Buckingham wants to play 4-3-3, with pace out wide, and Matete could be a key cog in that.