CAMERON Brannagan will make his Kassam Stadium return with a newfound appreciation for football after staff at the John Radcliffe Hospital ‘saved his life’.

The midfielder is set to line-up for Oxford United against Cambridge United tonight in what would be his first start since being diagnosed with rare inflammation behind the eye in October.

It was serious enough that the 24-year-old feared he could go blind, but the team at the John Radcliffe acted quickly to prevent it becoming a life-changing issue.

Brannagan is full of gratitude for Oxford Eye Hospital specialist Dr Sharma, who was meant to be away at the time but came in to treat United’s No 8.

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He said: “There’s no words I can really say to be honest, because she saved my life.

“It’s hard for me to express what I think about the NHS and the eye consultancy.

“All I can say is a massive thank you.

“If she hadn’t come in that Saturday they wouldn’t have saved the right eye.

“It wouldn’t have just affected football, it would have been my life.

“It’s out of this world what they did for me.”

It is not even three months since the former Liverpool trainee noticed the issue during an in-house game on October 13.

But the road to recovery has been long, with Brannagan initially training alone due to the steroids used to treat the inflammation.

He completed his comeback as a 75th-minute substitute at Burton Albion on January 2 and has had to wait ten days for tonight’s Papa John’s Trophy third round tie.

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Even so, Brannagan is just delighted to be back.

He said: “I said to a few of the boys that sometimes we don’t realise how lucky we are.

“Even when I was back running it was a big sigh of relief, because it’s something I’ve done since I was a kid.

“Just being out there and doing things I love felt so good.

“Being back around the boys and getting back to match fitness is just a huge relief.

“It makes me appreciate things even more than I did – not just the football, but off the pitch as well.”

United head coach Karl Robinson added: “People can come from school and they kick a ball around and they’re quite oblivious to the side of the world we don’t see day-in, day-out.

“Cameron’s starting to see that and he’s very thankful.”

Sam Winnall is also set to start tonight after the striker returned from injury at Burton.

Robinson said: “It might only be 45 minutes, but it’s good for us and good for his confidence.”