THERE have been plenty of reasons behind Oxford United’s recent surge up the table, but John Mousinho has put forward a new one – the players putting their feet up.

The squad returned to the training ground yesterday to prepare for tomorrow’s clash with AFC Wimbledon after a four-day break, granted as a reward for their superb run in Sky Bet League One.

It was well deserved, with the four-match winning streak realistically ending their relegation concerns with a month to spare.

But days off have not just been used as an incentive this season.

Instead, Mousinho pointed to tougher moments when extra recovery time was deployed, which he believes has been a factor in United’s resurgence.

“The Football League season is so long and arduous, especially when you have any semblance of a cup run,” he said.

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“We’ve been involved in all three cups this season and had times in January where we lost and the manager gave us an extra day off.

“He said at the time it might not seem like the right thing to do, but it will come back and help us in March and April. It definitely has done.

“We lost at Bury in the Checkatrade Trophy and got a few days off. Our form since has been very good.”

United have certainly shown impressive energy reserves of late.

Three of the four games in their winning run have included goals in stoppage-time.

The most recent came last weekend to seal a 3-1 win at Walsall, where Karl Robinson’s side had played with ten men for 45 minutes.

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Jerome Sinclair’s strike sparked jubilant celebrations among the travelling support, confident it meant League One football next season.

Mousinho had mixed emotions about how to feel – the squad had started the campaign with ambitions of challenging for the play-offs, but the relegation quicksand is tough to leave behind.

He said: “Whilst we’ve got good results to get ourselves out of the mire, we should never have been there in the first place.

“It’s always one where you don’t want to be too self-congratulatory when the fans are singing ‘we are staying up’.

“It’s not an achievement for Oxford or the lads.

“We’re not happy that’s where we’re at, we’re not happy that the crowning glory of the season is staying up and possibly trying to sneak into the top half.

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“That’s just not where we wanted to be.

“But there’s also the stark reality that plenty of good teams have been relegated and will continue to be.

“It’s not done yet, so we still need to concentrate on the last few games.”