Monday, 20 August 2012

In Profile: Summer Signings

As is now customary, our profiles of Oxford' new signings are now online. We're slightly behind schedule this year but as the transfer window hasn't yet closed, there's still time to read up on the new signings!

Sean Rigg
United's first signing of the summer was Sean Rigg, who arrived at the club back in May, just weeks after the 2011-12 season finished, from our last league opponents, Port Vale. Rigg began his professional career at Bristol Rovers after rising through the youth ranks at the Bristol Academy of Sport. Shortly after making his Rovers debut he suffered a broken jaw after being punched by an opposition player in an FA Cup match against Barrow. The offending payer, James Cotterill, was later sentenced to four months in prison for assault.

At the end of his first season as a professional, Rigg was promoted to League One with Bristol Rovers and was a regular starter during that time, making 38 first team appearances. However, Rigg struggled to get into the first team in 2008-09, making just 16 appearances in a season which included a loan spell at Grays Athletic. He was loaned out to Forest Green Rovers at the start of the 2009-10 season, scoring on his debut against Rushden and featuring in a 0-0 draw at the Kassam. He then joined Port Vale on loan, forming a successful strike partnership with Marc Richards, and signed permanently at the end of the season.

Micky Adams switched Rigg out to the wing, where he excelled and became an essential member of the Port Vale team. Last season, Rigg missed out during much of the early part of the season due to injury but worked his way back into the team and went on to score in Port Vale's 3-0 victory over Oxford in the final match of last season. At the end of the season, with Vale's economic situation looking increasingly uncertain, he backtracked on a pledge to sign a new contract at Port Vale and signed for Oxford for an increased wage.

Michael Raynes
Michael Raynes began his footballing career at Stockport County, making his debut as a promising 17-year-old. Before the end of the season he had established himself as a regular member of the side but was unable to prevent the Hatters from suffering relegation to League Two. However, Raynes' performances attracted plenty of attention, with Premier League West Brom lining up a bid for him, but he remained with Stockport and over the next several years made over 150 appearances for the club.

Raynes eventually made the step up in February 2010 when he signed for Championship club Scunthorpe, but his initial struggles to break into the side were compounded by injury problems and illness. Raynes was never able to fully establish himself in the Scunthorpe side and joined Rotherham during the summer of 2011. Last season he made 33 appearances for the Millers, and was involved in their 2-1 defeat at the Kassam in March.

Alex Evans
Alex Evans signed just days before the start of the season on a non-contract basis, having spent much of pre-season at Oxford on trial. Evans came through the youth system at Cardiff City and was offered his first professional contract at the beginning of last season. He failed to make an impact, however, and was limited to just a single first team appearance, in the League Cup against...Oxford United. Evans played in defence and did reasonably well at dealing with the United attack, but was given no further opportunities during his time at Cardiff, being released at the end of the season.

During the summer, he was one of many trialists to turn out for Oxford, joining the club for its tour of the USA and doing enough to persuade Chris Wilder to take another look after the team had returned home. Evans appeared against his old club in our 2-1 defeat at the Kassam, but along with the other trialists at the club over the summer he was not offered a permanent deal. However, injury problems forced the club into a U-turn and Evans was offered a non-contract deal.

In reality, it is unlikely that Evans will appear much for Oxford this season and he will probably part ways with the club before long, as has been the case with others such as Ryan James and Matthew Fletcher. However, it is reassuring to have cover and if he impresses – and if the budget will stretch – perhaps Evans' stay will become more permanent.

Lee Cox
Cox joined Oxford on a six-month loan deal from Swindon, making him the third player in the past 12 months to switch allegiance – after Mehdi Kerrouche and Lee Holmes. He came through the Academy at Leicester City, winning the Premier Academy League in 2006-07, but failed to make the grade there at senior level. After a brief and unsuccessful loan spell at Yeovil he was released and joined Inverness Caledonian Thistle in 2009.

Cox found his stride at Caley, playing a vital role as they strolled to the Division 1 title. He continued to be an important player for Inverness in the SPL until big-spending Swindon Town bought him in January 2011 for an 'undisclosed fee'. He featured for Swindon in their 2-0 defeat at the Kassam, before apparently falling out with Di Canio and being placed on the transfer list at the end of the season, despite still having two years left to run on his contract.

Jake Forster-Caskey
18-year-old Forster-Caskey, the son of Darren Caskey and stepson of Nicky Forster, looks set to have a very bright career ahead of him. He has come through the youth setup at Brighton, and in May 2010 – at the age of just 16 years and 13 days – he became the youngest player ever to feature for the Seagulls when he came on as a substitute against Yeovil Town. Over the next couple of years he continued his development in the youth team, making a handful of first team appearances as well.

Forster-Caskey has represented England at under-16, under-17 and under-18 levels. He captained the under-17s in the 2010 Nordic tournament, scoring his first international goal in 5-0 victory over Finland. He also played in the under-17 European Championships as England reached the semi-final, and in the 2011 under-17 World Cup when England reached the quarter-finals.

Forster-Caskey chose to join Oxford over Burton after receiving offers from both clubs, and he has already had an impact, scoring a gorgeous goal against Bristol Rovers on the opening day of the season.

Sean McGinty
Sean McGinty has joined on loan from Manchester United until January. Maidstone-born McGinty began his career in the Charlton Athletic Academy, before being snapped up by Manchester United at the age of 15, winning the 2011 FA Youth Cup. He went out on loan to Morecambe last season, but only made four League Two appearances before dislocating his shoulder and returning to Old Trafford.

McGinty arrived at Oxford in July, featuring against West Ham, but couldn't travel to the States due to a drink-driving conviction. He officially linked up with the squad on August 4th but has yet to make a competitive appearance since joining.

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