CHRIS Allen says he is relishing the opportunity to play a huge role in developing Oxford United’s youngsters.

The U’s backroom staff will take on a fresh look next season, with boss Karl Robinson bringing in Shaun Derry as first-team coach to work alongside Derek Fazackerley.

Allen will take up the post as head coach of United’s new under 23 side after spending the last three years as part of the first-team management set-up.

The U’s are looking to provide a vital pathway for players stepping out of the youth side and hoping to make their mark among the senior pros.

And Allen is excited at being tasked with the opportunity to help their progress.

“I see it as a great role to have with lots of enjoyment,” he said.

“My main love is developing people and making them better.

“If I can give players that little thing – a bit extra that helps them make the first team – then great.”

Allen, who came through the ranks at United and ended up making 27 Premier League appearances for Nottingham Forest, returned to the U’s in 2010 as youth team coach.

He was promoted to work with the first team under Michael Appleton in 2015, and continued in the role under Pep Clotet and Robinson.

While learning plenty from those managers, Allen is excited about returning to a more hands-on coaching role.

“You still get your individual bits here and there as a first-team coach,” he said.

“But I will get more time with the players here – and with the under 23 group it’s all about trying to develop.

“Whatever the young players need in their development goals we will try to give it to them.”

Allen says staff at United have been encouraged by the new ideas implemented by Robinson since he took over in March, but joked his outgoing nature does have its downfalls.

He added: “We had a virtual (under 23) side when Michael Appleton was here, but now it’s an official one and it does create a great opportunity.

“We have got some good players in the system, and this gives them another platform.”

He added: “Karl is a nightmare.

“Michael was quiet and within himself but a great manager. Pep was more abrupt and sharp in the way he dealt with things, and Karl is like a kid really.

“He is so excited about how he sees things and how he wants to do it. It’s infectious.

“The players love it, the staff love it and he is fantastic around the place with great ideas.

“My job now is to get people into the first team (for him).”