KARL Robinson has laid down the gauntlet to the Oxford United players who have been out on loan this season – impress me in pre-season or you will be out.

The U’s boss described the size of the squad he inherited as “ludicrous” and began a major clear-out this week when nine players were told they would be released.

While that group were heading out of the training ground, another set of players were arriving.

Charlie Raglan and Fiacre Kelleher were among those at Roman Way this week for end-of-season testing.

The centre backs have been at Port Vale and Solihull Moors respectively, while goalkeeper Jack Stevens was with Tamworth.

Kane Hemmings was the only player not around, due to Mansfield Town going into Saturday’s final game of the season still in with a chance of reaching the Sky Bet League Two play-offs.

Robinson arranged an under 23 game last month to run the rule over the likes of Sam Long, who has been at Hampton & Richmond Borough.

He intends to give those who have been away an opportunity this summer, but they have to hit the ground running.

“They’ll have a chance because they’re contracted,” he said.

“We will give them an opportunity, 100 per cent and they will get it in pre-season.

“But if they don’t perform then they go – it’s as simple as that.

“We can’t afford to carry the amount of players we are right now.

“It’s ludicrous, it’s too much money spread out over too many people, rather than a reduced squad of high quality.

“The recruitment side of it baffles me. We want two for every position and that’s our objective for the summer.”

The question of what happens with Hemmings is the most intriguing of the group loaned out.

Despite finishing last season with 15 goals – second only to Chris Maguire – he was deemed surplus to requirements in August.

His loan to Field Mill made room in the U’s squad for Agon Mehmeti, who was one of those cast out this week having scored just once all campaign.

Hemmings has gone on to net 14 goals for the Stags, and while they have admittedly come in League Two, the haul is three more than United’s top-scorer, Wes Thomas.

Given the striking unit’s struggles, not recalling the 26-year-old in January when United had the chance looks a mistake.

But Robinson insisted he had no opinion on the decision and was only now switching his focus to those who were coming back into the fold.

He said: “I’ve never seen him (Hemmings) kick a ball.

“I don’t make any apologies with that because he’s not my player until the summer.

“I’m now starting to watch the players who are going to affect our team next year.

“For the next few days I’ll be watching some of his games. That’s where we’re at.

“We should have had enough with Gino, Wes, Jon and Agon.

“We’ve got arguably some very good players there, it just didn’t seem to click.”