NEW Oxford United recruit Ryan Williams has already noticed plenty of changes to the club he left seven years ago.

The Australian became the U’s second summer signing yesterday, joining on a two-year deal after rejecting a new contract at Sky Bet League One rivals Portsmouth.

Williams played his first full season of men’s football at United back in 2013/14, scoring eight goals in 42 appearances on loan from Fulham.

The 27-year-old helped the U’s finish eighth in Sky Bet League Two, but joins a side who have reached the League One play-offs in the last two campaigns.

Ryan Williams: I'm ready to play the best football of my career

One very visible difference at United is a new training ground, following the move to Oxford Sports Park from the adjacent Roman Way site in 2018.

For Williams, it is evidence of a club on the up.

“It’s a completely different club from last time,” he said.

“You drive past the old (training ground) and the grass is about six foot tall.

“We had a tiny little gym, the showers were cold so you didn’t shower after training and you had to wash your own kit.

“It’s all part of the learning curve, I was only 19 or 20 when I came here last time and I really enjoyed it.

“I just see the club going forward – a play-off final and reaching the semis in the last two years looks like it’s going upwards.”

Williams commuted from Walton-on-Thames, in Surrey, during his first spell at United, but hopes to find a place in Oxfordshire with his young family.

After leaving the U’s in 2014, he won promotion to the Sky Bet Championship with Barnsley and Rotherham United before joining Portsmouth in 2019.

Fact file: Everything you need to know about Ryan Williams

Pompey have faced United on six occasions since then, with their 1-0 victory at the Kassam Stadium in February the only time the sides were separated inside 90 minutes.

But the U’s triumphed on penalties in the 2019/20 League One play-off semi-finals and pipped their rivals to sixth place on the final day of last season.

Although neither campaign ended in promotion, Williams is encouraged by United’s desire to get it right this time around.

He said: “You can tell how they see themselves by the way the manager and people around the club speak.

“It’s definitely a lot more ambitious (than his first spell) and I think our values align really well.

“I’ve got to do the hard work to get in the team, but once I do I’ll enjoy playing an attacking style.

“The past few years Oxford have edged Portsmouth and it shows the direction they want to go is upwards.

“I think it’ll be third time lucky for Oxford, it’s the whole package: the ambition of the manager and the ambition of the club is exciting.”