A FIRST clean sheet in Sky Bet League One has come as a confidence boost for Rob Dickie.

Aside from one substitute appearance in the Championship with Reading, the centre back had only appeared in League Two and the National League before he signed for Oxford United in January.

After having to bide his time to get in the side, Dickie has slotted in well.

The 21-year-old stood out in the U’s goalless draw at Northampton Town last weekend.

While it was a shot in the arm for a much-changed defence, Dickie believes it will help him settle.

He said: “I definitely feel more comfortable with each game.

“Because it’s a new back four I think we’re all gelling together better now with each game.

“We’ve definitely got a clean sheet to build on.

“I’m confident in my own ability, but to get a clean sheet on the road like that is a boost.”

With full backs Todd Kane and Ashley Smith-Brown signing on loan in January, the one constant in the U’s defence has been John Mousinho.

And the experienced skipper was impressed with Dickie’s display at Sixfields.

He said: “I think it was by far his best game, not to say he hasn’t played well in the other games, but I thought he looked very composed and confident.

“(John-Joe) O’Toole is a real handful and he dealt with him really well.

“I thought Rob dominated his aerial battles, positionally I thought he was brilliant and you could see as he grew into the game he got a lot more confident on the ball.

“That’s important for us with the way we want to play.

“I think he’s improved in every game he’s played.”