The former Portsmouth target Oxford boss Karl Robinson is pinning his Championship hopes on
Karl Robinson believes former Pompey target Herbie Kane holds the key to his Oxford United side winning promotion to the Championship.
The midfielder, who was heavily linked with a move to Fratton Park in the summer of 2019 and then 2020 – is currently on loan at the U’s from Barnsley.
The Tykes completed a £1.25m deal for the then Liverpool youngster last October, seeing off serious interest from the Blues, Hull and Luton.
Yet, the 22-year-old is currently on the third loan of his career after struggling for regular minutes at Oakwell.
His situation at Barnsley played into the hands of Robinson, who was keen to take Kane to the Kassam Stadium.
Now, with the midfielder starting and impressing in Oxford’s past four games, the U’s manager believes the one-time Kenny Jackett target could be instrumental in finally leading Oxford back to the second tier of English football after a couple near misses.
Robinson told the Oxford Mail: ‘I’ve not hidden the fact that this is one of the signings I was so excited about.
‘He holds the key to this football club being in the Championship – I think he’s that good.
‘We need to have those players on permanents, we all know that.
‘He likes being back down south for the first time in a long time.
‘Cameron Brannagan has played with him at youth level and they’re very close.
‘He gives me tremendous flexibility, we don’t lose our attacking prowess when he’s on the pitch because he’s a forward-thinking footballer.’
Kane was one of nine players recruited by Robinson in the summer, with ex-Blues winger Ryan Williams among those brought in to build on last term’s sixth-placed finish and subsequent defeat to Blackpool in the play-off semi-finals.
And the manager – who was also keen on Ellis Harrison during the transfer window – believes his side are ‘going from strength to strength’ thanks to the quality he now has at his disposal at the Kassam.
He added: ‘Him (Kane) and Cameron is almost my dream midfield.
‘Our club is certainly going from strength to strength with the calibre of players we’re starting to bring into the building.’
The U’s currently sit eighth in the table with 18 points from their 11 games played.