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League One

Cameron Brannagan's EFL journey

11 August 2020

Life in League One can be a learning curve for footballers, especially those who have come from the Premier League.

The change in training schedules, the quality of opposition, the physicality of the game, the unpredictability and of course, the demanding 46-game season can be the toughest of challenges, but Oxford United’s Cameron Brannagan is excelling in the third tier of English football. 
The 24-year-old has made League One his own. After initially going out on loan to Fleetwood Town in 2017, Brannagan went on to find a home at the Kassam Stadium and has gone from strength-to-strength under the watchful eye of current manager Karl Robinson.
After ending his 16-year association with Liverpool in 2018 to pursue regular footballing opportunities, Oxfordshire was his destination, however it was not a perfect start to life at his new club as an ankle injury halted his progression.
Since his recovery however, he has not looked back, his first full season saw him make more than 50 appearances in all competitions with him playing a pivotal part in Robinson’s attacking outfit. 
As the side finished 12th and reached the Quarter-Finals of the EFL Trophy, his team-mates were clearly impressed with his contributions, seeing him named as the club’s Players’ Player of the Year at their end of season awards ceremony.
A sign of things to come, perhaps.
With Robinson strengthening the U’s with the likes of Matty Taylor and Tariqe Fosu-Henry, the club had a clear plan to press forward with their vision, and progressing from Sky Bet League One.
Brannagan would be the focal point of the midfield, with things slowly falling into place for Oxford after a less than impressive start to the season, which saw them only win once between the start of the season on August 3 until their second win on September 14.
But bad starts are often forgotten after memorable endings, and the young man from Salford certainly played his part in helping the side reach the 2019/20 Sky Bet League One Play-Off Final.
After seeing off Portsmouth over two Semi-Final legs - which included a tense penalty shoot-out - the U’s would travel south for their date with destiny against Wycombe Wanderers at Wembley Stadium.
Unfortunately, there would be no fairy tail ending for Brannagan and teammates this time around, as the Chairboys made history to reach the Championship, leaving behind a dejected - but not disheartened - Oxford side.
Attention has now turned to the new season, however one important question is yet to be answered - would Cameron Brannagan be wearing yellow in the 2020/21 campaign?
With Leeds United showing a strong interest in the midfielder, could the bright lights of the Premier League tempt the youngster into moving back up north?
Thankfully for U’s fans, Brannagan answered those questions last Friday by signing a new long-term deal with the club.
“I’m more than happy to be here,” he told the club. "All I want is to win promotion and be successful with this club.”
“The club is set up for that and I have loved my time here so far. I owe them a lot because they took a chance on me as a young player and I want to repay that.” 
There is clearly a buzz around the place after reaching the Play-Off Final last season, but the excitement will not doubt have gone up a notch with the news that their midfield talisman will be staying on for the foreseeable. 
One thing is for sure, Oxford United have one of the most talented youngsters in the EFL within their ranks. 

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