GEORGE Thorne is excited at the thought of playing a role in Oxford United's Sky Bet League One promotion challenge.

The midfielder has signed for the U's until the end of the season after his loan from Derby County expired earlier this month.

He joined the Sky Bet Championship club in 2014 but made just 73 appearances after suffering several injuries, before leaving by mutual agreement yesterday.

Read also: Oxford United sign George Thorne after Derby County exit

The former England U19 international's woes continued at United as he dislocated his shoulder against West Ham United in just his third appearance.

But Thorne is already settled at the club after completing his recovery with the U's and the 27-year-old is raring to go.

He said: “In the last couple of years at Derby I kind of fell out of love with football.

“I’m now one of the older boys in this changing room, so I’m quite enjoying that aspect.

“There’s some great talent here and we’ve got a great chance of getting promoted this season.

“If I can contribute then I’m looking forward to doing that.”

The deal is believed to involve only a minimal outlay for United, while a permanent move is beneficial for another reason.

The permanent move also helps United, who already have five loan players on their books - Matty Taylor, Ben Woodburn, Marcus Browne, Nathan Holland and Liam Kelly - which is the maximum allowed in the matchday squad of 18.