In an interview with the Oxford Mail, Oxford United boss Karl Robinson spoke out about goalkeeper Jack Stevens.
Stevens has been attracting attention from Championship side Middlesbrough in recent weeks, but the Oxford United manager is keen to keep hold of one of their prized assets.
The number one between the sticks at the Riverside at present is Marcus Bettinelli. However, the ‘keeper will return to parent club Fulham in the summer and Middlesbrough will be in desperate need to find a new shot stopper.
Reports suggest that Boro could go back in for Bettinelli with the England U21 international out of contract at Craven Cottage. Although another option could be the Oxford’s Stevens.
U’s boss Robinson has recently spoken out about his hope of keeping the club’s best players at the Kassam Stadium next season.
“Work’s going on behind the scenes for next season,” he confirmed.
“But the likes of Jack, Cameron (Brannagan) and Rob Atkinson have to stay here next year.
“If you look at the top teams, there’s no turnover of players, they’ve only got better.
“That’s a big learning curve for us for next season.”
However, he did confirm that if a bid comes in over their valuation of the player, the hierarchy may have no choice but to sell.
“Unless the transfer fee becomes something that we have no control over, we’ve got to be really brave in keeping all of these players moving forward.”
Stevens is contracted to the club until 2024 and has enjoyed a successful campaign in his first season at senior level. The 23-year-old had previously had spells at the likes of Oxford City and Tamworth in the National League South and the Southern League Premier Division Central respectively.
However, he was given the opportunity in the first-team and he took it with both hands. In 26 appearances in League One this season he has kept a total of 11 clean sheets and has conceded just 26 goals in that time.