MARCUS McGuane hopes the only way is up as he continues to build up fitness.

The midfielder has featured in Oxford United’s last five games after missing the previous two months and played all 120 minutes of Tuesday’s Emirates FA Cup defeat at Bristol Rovers.

It has been a tough year for McGuane, who suffered a long-term thigh injury in January and was absent for virtually all of September and October.

But the 22-year-old is playing regularly again and has plenty of motivation to kick on.

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“There’s always going to be football factors, then there’s external factors of doing it for myself and my son,” he said.

“It means everything to be back out there playing in front of fans.

“There have been ups and downs and it has been really mentally tough.

“I’m lucky I have the right support around me and the right people to guide me.

“There’s been some very hard days, but that’s part and parcel of football and I’m now trying to stay positive and look to the future.”

McGuane missed the second half of last season after injuring his thigh against Rovers in January, but his next meeting with the Gas had happier memories.

The former Arsenal and Barcelona youngster opened his U’s account with an excellent finish in the sides’ 2-2 draw at the Kassam Stadium earlier this month.

Most of McGuane’s minutes have come in the cup competitions and he is yet to start a Sky Bet League One game this season, with United sixth in the table.

He said: “It has been tough, but I’ve got full support for the boys.

“Everyone in the building knows what the objective is for the season, so there’s no room for me to feel envious.

“I’m proud of the boys, considering how we started last season we’ve started very well.

“We’ve got a brilliant squad and having competition for places is the only way you’re going to get the best out of yourself.”