SAM Long admits to having no idea how he has handled a host of knocks to still be at Oxford United.

The squad’s longest-serving player is on the verge of his best run in the first team – five games if he starts against Bradford City tomorrow.

It has come along with a new contract which will see the defender from Bicester extend his stay, which has already accounted for two-thirds of his life.

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The 24-year-old has had to battle back from a series of injuries over the years and did not play at all for the U’s last season.

Given how tough it has been, Long struggles to explain how he has managed to keep battling back.

“I don’t know how I do it to be honest,” he said.

“I just try to take it day-by-day and come in with a smile.

“I just enjoy being here.

“I’ve always been the same lad.

“I’ve had to put up with a lot of setbacks in my short career, a lot of injuries where people on the outside wouldn’t understand the severity and how unlucky I’ve been with it.

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“I think my character has been good because I’ve come back from those injuries and I’m still here.”

Long has contributed to a decent defensive effort which has conceded just twice in the last four games.

While the right back’s no-nonsense style means it is harder for him to catch the eye, he is a popular figure in the changing room.

Goalkeeper Simon Eastwood said: “Longy doesn’t make the headlines, but probably felt a little disappointed he didn’t get in sooner than he actually did.

“I think he’s been doing very well in training and is almost a seven out of ten right back.

“That’s all you need in this league – to do your job and keep it simple.”