SAM Long’s attacking contribution over the past week is a product of hard work, says Karl Robinson.

The right back scored an excellent goal to help Oxford United beat Plymouth Argyle 3-2 last Tuesday, before providing three assists in the 5-1 weekend thrashing of Burton Albion.

Last month, Robinson hailed the Bicester-born defender as the U’s player of the season so far, thanks to his performances across the back line.

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But United’s head coach had also reminded Long he must have an impact going forward if his side is going to challenge at the right end of Sky Bet League One.

Robinson said: “He’s the best one-v-one defender at the club.

“He’s the go-to full-back when you’re under pressure and have to defend for your lives.

“If we want to get out of this league, we have to have full-backs who assist and score goals.

“He was told that in the summer and it’s something he’s worked so hard on.”

Robinson added: “He’s got tremendous energy and he’s an Oxford boy.

“Sometimes when you’re associated with the youth ranks it can be a little bit of a curse.

“I think you see that in all of his duels – he rarely comes out on the losing side.”

Long should have ended with four assists at Burton, but Mide Shodipo somehow cleared the crossbar from a few yards out following the right back’s cross.

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That miss came shortly before the defender set up Josh Ruffels’ second strike of the afternoon, which made it three goals in two games for the left back.

The 27-year-old is now the U’s third-highest scorer this season, having found the net four times.

United’s full-backs were involved in all five of their side’s goals at the Pirelli Stadium and Robinson felt this showed a side in control.

He said: “When you talk about fluidity and style, what ticks that box for me is when your full-backs contribute to assists and goals.

“When they feel comfortable enough to play in the opposition’s final third it means we have a greater dominance of the ball.”