JOSH Murphy has praised Oxford United boss Des Buckingham for helping bring the best out of him on the pitch, after a turbulent period in his career.

The winger signed for the U’s on a free transfer in July 2022, having left Cardiff City.

He was brought to the club by former United head coach Karl Robinson, but form and fitness problems got in the way of him building any momentum.

When Robinson was sacked in February of last year, he was then replaced by Liam Manning, who picked Murphy nine times from the final 10 games of last season, with five of those games being starts.

He failed to complete 90 minutes though, and found himself further on the periphery at the start of the current campaign.

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Manning left for Bristol City in November, and the arrival of Buckingham proved to be a turning point in Murphy’s U’s career.

Buckingham placed greater emphasis on the wide areas, and the system he introduced got Murphy firing.

The 29-year-old said: “He’s supported me, and that’s all I ever ask from managers that I play for. Just support me and I’ll do my best to bring out my ability.

“He’s done that since he came in, and I’m absolutely buzzing for him. When results weren’t going our way, he took the flak.

“Us as players knew that we weren’t performing, and it was more on us than it was on him. I’m absolutely buzzing that he’s managed to get us up. It’s everything that he deserves.”

In the Sky Bet League One play-off final at Wembley, it was Murphy’s brace which saw off Bolton Wanderers in a 2-0 victory for United.

And for Murphy, who was born and grew up in the Wembley area of London, returning to his roots made the occasion extra special when the team coach drove through his former neighbourhood.

He said: “It was a trip down memory lane, pulling up and seeing all the old spots I used to go to, and driving past my house.

“It’s a special occasion, to play the way we played, and win the game.”