SIMON Eastwood was Oxford United’s outstanding performer this season, but the goalkeeper believes there is room for improvement.
The 27-year-old played every minute of the U’s 62 games in all competitions, the highest number of appearances for a single campaign since 1983/84.
Eastwood’s displays won him the player of the season awards voted for by the supporters and his peers in the squad.
It included a host of important saves as the U’s enjoyed successful results in Sky Bet League One, the Emirates FA Cup and Checkatrade Trophy.
But remarkably, the stopper does not think it was his best season.
“I think in terms of performances, probably not,” he said.
“I think I played better at Blackburn.
“I didn’t play as many games, but my (best) performances in the main were there – I had a couple of very good games.
“But in terms of consistency, to play 62 games is really something.”
Eastwood signed a new two-year deal in February, stating his aim was to get back to the Championship, where he played with Blackburn Rovers, during the contract.
The former Huddersfield Town trainee is optimistic about United’s chances of improving on their eighth-place finish next season, providing they can make shrewd additions this summer.
He said: “It’s been a great season overall, with where we’ve finished.
“We would’ve taken that at the start given it’s our first season at this level.
“I think next season will be a big one for us to kick on.
“Hopefully we make a couple of good signings in the summer so we can get to the next level.”
One new face Eastwood would love to see is Everton’s Conor McAleny, who scored ten goals in 14 starts on loan.
But the stopper reckons the forward will be a target for clubs in the second tier.
He said: “I think it will be very hard for us to keep him.
“I’ve been in the Championship and I believe he can play there, but hopefully he can sign a deal (with United).”
l DESPITE the U's hoping to conclude talks with the out-of-contract players by yesterday, the Oxford Mail have been informed the retained list is now likely to be confirmed at the start of next week.