THE gradual return to fitness of Marcus Browne could be the final ingredient in Oxford United’s promotion push.

Seeing him back in the action during a lively cameo against Cardiff City under-23s this week is a huge positive for the U’s.

United’s squad is packed with attacking players who can turn a game on its head, so to add Browne to that extensive list is massive for the club.

Read also: Oxford United arrange another friendly to get Marcus Browne back to fitness

However, while having an abundance of creative talents is to be admired, if the side doesn’t cut the number of goals being conceded, then they will always be starting games one step behind.

It is rare teams get promoted from this division while conceding the sheer number of goals United are at the moment.

Take last season.

Hull City (38 goals conceded), Peterborough (46) and Blackpool (37) were promoted.

In the last full season before the pandemic, Luton Town (42), Barnsley (39) and Charlton Athletic (40) went up. The year before, it was Wigan Athletic (29), Blackburn Rovers (40) and Rotherham United (53).

With 41 goals conceded in 32 games, the U’s are bucking the above trend.