Wednesday, 17 July 2013

In Profile: Summer Signings

It's the first of our home pre-season friendlies on Saturday, with Championship side Birmingham City the visitors for what, for many supporters, will be the first chance to see our summer recruits in action. As is now customary at this time of year, we've been trawling the internet looking for information about the new players to present you with these brief profiles of our six new players (not including youngsters Josh Shama, Kenzer Lee and Matt Bevans, who will join the development squad this season). Enjoy!

Picture by Jon Whiles Photography
Jonathan Meades
21-year-old Meades came through the youth system at Cardiff while Neal Ardley was head of the Academy there. At the tender age of 18 he was sent on loan for the summer to Norwegian side Moss FK (bizarrely getting sent off and winning the man of the match award in his first game), and though it was one which ultimately ended in relegation from the top flight it proved a good grounding for Meades and provided him with an early experience of competitive first-team football.

Big things were expected from Meades, but his early career was plagued by injury and he eventually departed Cardiff in 2012 without making a first-team appearance. He joined League One Bournemouth after a trial there in the summer, but missed the Cherries' visit to the Kassam in the League Cup as his transfer hadn't yet been ratified by the Football League. However, Meades was unfortunate to be joining Bournemouth at a time when the club was undergoing something of a transition and the return of Eddie Howe to the Dean Court hotseat just a couple of months into the season probably didn't help Meades' cause.

Meades was sent out on loan to struggling AFC Wimbledon in November and soon impressed at Kingsmeadow as he rejoined his old mentor Neal Ardley. He soon established himself as a starter at the Dons, seeing his loan extended to the end of the season as a vital player in Wimbledon's (ultimately successful) relegation battle. Ardley wanted to keep him at Wimbledon on a permanent basis, but Meades instead opted to join Oxford, featuring in recent friendlies against Ardley and Alloa.

David Hunt
Picture by Jon Whiles Photography

Hunt began his career at Crystal Palace but soon moved on to League Two Leyton Orient in 2003. In 2005, he traded London for Northampton, winning promotion from League Two in 2006 with the Cobblers. Hunt helped Northampton to a respectable 9th-place finish in their debut League One season but in 2007 he was on the move again, this time to Shrewsbury Town after rejecting a contract extension at Northampton.

However, his time at the Shrews was an unhappy one, as his year and a half there was blighted by injuries which limited him to just 22 starts. He signed for Brentford in January 2009, helping Andy Scott's team to the league title at the end of the season. He was an ever-present in the Brentford side as he helped the Bees consolidate their position in their debut League One season with a 9th-placed finish.

Hunt joined Crawley Town on loan in January 2011, with the club on their way to the Conference title. He joined Crawley permanently that summer and would go on to play a big part in their second successive promotion – this time from League Two. However, despite being a key member in two promotions for the Red Devils, Hunt found himself second choice for much of last season and so opted for a move to Oxford at the end of the season. He wrote on his blog of his decision to join Oxford:
A few options popped up although none of them interested me enough make me want to leave. That was until Chris Wilder and Oxford United came knocking. I've always thought of Oxford as a big club and one that I believe should be much higher in the tiers of football. I've played with many ex United players such as Lee Steele, Andy Scott, Jamie Cook and the legend Dannie Bulman who all have spoken highly of the club. Bullwink had always let me know how good it was and what they are trying to achieve, this all made me fascinated.
Picture by Jon Whiles Photography

Danny Rose
Danny Rose should be a familiar face to most Oxford fans, following his spell at the club in 2007 and 2008. Rose came through the youth system at Manchester United and had been captain of their reserve team before Jim Smith brought him to Oxford on loan in January 2007. He made 22 appearances in the second half of the 2006-07 season and signed permanently that summer despite interest from clubs in League One and the Championship.

Unfortunately the 2007-08 season wasn't a success for him or the club and he moved on at the end of the season, joining Conference South side Newport County. Rose shone at Newport and was a major player for them as they won the Conference South title in 2010 and continued to impress in the Conference National with the Exiles.

Crystal Palace were reported to be interested in signing him, but he eventually signed for big-spending Fleetwood Town in January 2012. Rose helped Fleetwood win the title at the end of that season but found himself out of favour in League Two and was sent out on loan to struggling Aldershot. The Shots were ultimately relegated at the end of the season, but Rose had done enough to impress Chris Wilder, who snapped him up this summer.

Dave Kitson
Kitson – allegedly the Secret Footballer – was this summer's big 'marquee signing', joining from Sheffield United just five years after Stoke paid £5.5million for his services in the Premier League. Kitson's route into top-flight football was an unorthodox one, beginning his career at Hitchin Town before moving to Arlesey Town, while working as a shelf-stacker at his local Sainsbury's.

In 2001 he joined Cambridge United – then in League One – netting ten times in his first full season at the club. He scored an impressive 25 times in 2002-03 and had begun the 03-04 season in prolific fashion before Reading came calling. He continued his goalscoring form there and helped them to the Championship title in 2006. He scored Reading's first goal as a Premier League club but was injured in the same match and missed half of the season as a result.

Kitson continued to impress in the top-flight for Reading upon his return and earned a big-money move to Stoke City following the Royals' relegation from the Premier League. However, the move was not a success and Kitson failed to score once for Stoke in his first season at the Britannia Stadium, finishing the season back at Reading on loan. He began the following season better but was then loaned out to Middlesbrough and his Stoke career fell flat, with him eventually departing for Portsmouth in the summer of 2010.

He scored 12 goals during two years at Fratton Park but joined a club in turmoil and suffered relegation from the Championship with Pompey in 2012. After leaving Portsmouth, Kitson then joined League One Sheffield United, scoring 12 goals in 37 appearances (including at the Kassam in the Blades' FA Cup victory) before heading back down south to join Oxford. Kitson reportedly had interest from Championship clubs, but opted to become a yellow in order to be nearer to his family.

Asa Hall
Asa Hall is another figure that United fans should be familiar with, returning to the club on loan from Shrewsbury just a year after his departure. Hall came through the ranks at Birmingham City and was a highly rated product, appearing for England under 19s and under 20s before being sent out on loan to Boston United and Ashford Town to gain first-team experience. In 2008 he was loaned to Shrewsbury Town, where he impressed sufficiently to have been offered a contract by boss Gary Peters and then by his successor Paul Simpson, but turned the club down in favour of a move to Luton.

Picture by Jon Whiles Photography

Hall joined a Luton side still reeling from an unprecedented 30-point deduction which all but confirmed their relegation before the season had even begun – a curious move for a young player of whom much was expected. Hall became an important player for the Hatters, chipping in with some impressive long-range goals and picking up a medal as JPT champions despite the inevitable relegation at the end of the season. Hall continued his form in the Conference, but after the arrival of Simon Heslop he was deemed surplus to requirements and released at the end of the season.

In 2010 Hall joined Oxford in time for the start of our first season back in the Football League (shortly followed by the aforementioned Heslop!) and expectations were high. Arguably Hall never really delivered on his promise during his first spell at the Kassam, though he was a solid performer and in the last few months of his time here was looking impressive. He clearly did enough to impress Chris Wilder, who offered him a new contract, only for Hall to opt for a move to a higher-placed club nearer his home in the Midlands and join League One Shrewsbury. But last season wasn't a great success for Hall, who struggled to impress his new employers, finishing the season with relegation to the Conference while on loan with Aldershot.

Picture by Jon Whiles Photography
Tom Newey
Experienced defender Tom Newey began his career with Leeds United, though he never made any first-team appearances for them, spending time on loan at Cambridge United and Darlington before joining League Two Leyton Orient in July 2003. He made 63 appearances for the O's during two seasons at Brisbane Road, eventually leaving for Cambridge after a second loan spell at the Abbey Stadium.

His time with the 'other U's' was not exactly successful as he suffered relegation to the Conference during his only season at the club, moving back north to Grimsby where he became a first team regular, having switched from left wing to left-back, during a four-year spell with the Mariners. Though Newey took a while to find his feet, he eventually became an immense success at Grimsby, reaching the play-off final in his first season at the club. He made a repeat appearance at Wembley – again unsuccessfully – in 2008 after captaining the side in the final of the JPT. Newey's 2008-09 season was cut short by injury, during which time new manager Mike Newell replaced him and he was loaned out to Rochdale after being told he could leave on a free transfer.

He signed for Bury that summer after a successful trial, making 32 appearances for the Shakers before a move to Rotherham the following summer. Sheffield-born Newey settled in quickly back in South Yorkshire and soon established himself as number one choice at left-back for the Millers. However, his time there fell flat after two ill-fated promotion campaigns ended in mid-table disappointment and he joined Scunthorpe United last summer. Newey was an important player for the Iron last season, missing just one league game all season, but was released following their relegation from League One (Callum Kennedy – another Oxford target – was favoured at left-back prior to his move to AFC Wimbledon) before joining United shortly after the players returned for pre-season.

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