Johnson aims to boost Oxford United’s promotion charge

Oli Johnson
Oli Johnson

WAKEFIELD’S Oli Johnson is looking to propel Oxford United into contention for automatic promotion from npower League Two after his goal and assist guided the U’s to a 2-1 win over Dagenham and Redbridge in midweek.

The 24-year-old former Nostell MW striker netted in his first start for United and played-in James Constable for the winner as the hosts celebrated their first win in four league matches.

It was a great way for Johnson to stake a claim for a regular place in Chris Wilder’s team and an extension to his contract which expires at the end of the season.

He added: “We struggled a bit [against Dagenham]. We started with a 4-3-3 formation and it didn’t really work so we went to 4-4-2 at half-time and that gave us more width.”

Johnson was moved to the left of the midfield four after the break but the striker wasn’t fazed by the change in his position.

He said: “I have attacking instincts and playing in midfield means I have more defensive responsibilities but I just want to be involved and I will play anywhere the boss tells me.”

Injuries have plagued Wilder’s front line with Alfie Potter out for the rest of the season with a broken ankle and both Jon-Paul Pittman and Tom Craddock sidelined for at least three weeks.

However, the Oxford boss has bolstered his attacking options with the loan signings of Southampton’s Lee Holmes and Swindon striker Mehdi Kerrouche.

And Johnson recognises that he will have to be at his best in the face of strong competition for places, saying: “The manager has brought in attackers and there are players coming back from injury so there is a lot of competition but that suits me and it helps to keep me on my toes.”

Johnson could well retain his place in Wilder’s team for the trip to Bristol Rovers on Saturday before United embark on a run of three consecutive home games.

He said: “We hope to carry on where we left off at Bristol and then get maximum points from our home games.

“We are in sixth at the moment but we have a game in hand on the top-three and if we can put a good run of five or six wins together then we can be challenging for automatic promotion.”

Read tomorrow’s Wakefield Express for more on this story and the latest sports news.