PHIL Edwards is doing his best to ignore what will happen after the end of the season, but admits playing well in Oxford United’s run-in would help put him in the shop window.
The full back was a late addition to the U’s squad in August, signed as a safe pair of hands at right back while Christian Ribeiro recovered from a broken ankle.
The Welshman has been available for several weeks now, but the loanee has quietly established himself as a key player in the back four.
He has also contributed some important goals along the way, starting with the equaliser which earned a 1-1 draw at tomorrow’s opponents Scunthorpe United in November.
His header against Peterborough United last weekend was his fourth of a productive campaign.
Edwards doubts Burton Albion will offer new terms when his contract expires this summer, particularly if they stay up in the Sky Bet Championship.
So performing strongly in the final weeks of the season has taken on extra significance.
“I’m up at the end of the season,” he said.
“It doesn’t look like I’ll get another one there, so I’m putting myself in the window for Oxford or any other clubs who might be interested.”
If he is released, the performances this season will ensure Edwards is not a free agent for long.
It will have crossed Michael Appleton’s mind, although with Ribeiro fit again and Sam Long signing a new contract he may feel the squad has enough options at right back and his budget for next season would be better spent elsewhere.
One valuable element Edwards has brought this season is experience.
At 31, he is seven years above the average age for the squad, but it has proven very useful at times this season when the back four have been under pressure.
The defender, who won successive promotions with Burton, is on course to reach 500 career appearances before the end of the season.
And while Appleton will have been hoping some of the tricks of the trade will have rubbed off on his youthful group, Edwards insists it is a two-way street.
He said: “You can always improve. I’m 31 and I know I can get better in different aspects of my game.
“If you can take a little bit of what you see then you’re better off for me and Oxford.
“I’m the grandad of the group.
“When we have possession games on the Friday they say ‘oldest in’. I’m used to looking round at someone else, but it’s me now.
“A few of the lads give me stick about it, but I’ve just got to bring my experience and feed it through to the rest of the lads.
“I’ve always got a smile on my face – I just love football.
“I’m getting on a bit now, so you cherish these moments a bit more.”