A LACK of new faces is the only negative from Oxford United’s tour to Ireland – but manager Karl Robinson believes he has found a silver lining.

When the squad return today, two young players arrive back in England with their reputations enhanced.

While United’s wait for attacking reinforcements has been longer than expected, Shandon Baptiste and Malachi Napa have made the most of the extra playing time.

The pair appear to have spent the summer in the gym and look to have stepped up, 12 months after they travelled to United’s tour to Portugal as novices.

Baptiste in particular has seized his chance, providing both assists in the 2-0 win against UCD yesterday, following on from setting up three goals against Longford Town on Tuesday.

Although Robinson wanted to have added more firepower to his squad, the young wingers have stood out.

He said: “If we start the season with what we’ve got now I wouldn’t be happy, but it’s still three-and-a-half weeks away.

“There’s a lot of work to be done, but they have certainly given me food for thought.

“It has allowed me to see the likes of Shandon, who has really grown, and Malachi seems stronger than last year. They have really jumped into the forefront of my mind.

“I’ve been really proud of how much they’ve improved.

“They look physically stronger and have coped with all the physical aspects of the games and what we’ve demanded of them.”

Aside from the lack of transfer activity, Robinson could not be happier with a tour which has seen three wins in as many days following a week of intense training.

He said: “For the players we have here, it’s been perfect.

“The players will say it’s been gruelling, a very demanding trip, but this short-term pain is for long-term success.”

And the U’s boss is optimistic his attacking options are about to multiply.

He said: “We can hopefully get one in on Friday, we’re just waiting for his team to do some business before we can cement that.

“You’d like to think by Monday (there would be another).

“We’ve been told by a Premier League club he will play at the weekend and we’ll be sending our people to the game so afterwards we can ambush him.”