Luke O’Brien feels like a proper player again as he prepares for tomorrow’s reunion with his home-town club.
The former City left back is likely to be on the Oxford bench after signing a deal last week until the middle of December.
But O’Brien is just delighted to be back in the football fold after a summer scrabbling around looking for a new employer.
He admitted: “I’ve spent the last three or four months talking to X amount of clubs and managers. I didn’t realise how hard it was going to be with a few days here and few days there.
“You’re asking around if you can come in and train with them. Even if they weren’t offering anything, you just wanted the chance to keep fit.
“You’re always told that you need a good pre-season. Don’t get that under your belt and you’re going to struggle later on.
“I had a week up at Ross County and two weeks with Accrington but my last competitive game was in March for Exeter at MK Dons.
“I’ve played three or four in pre-season with Halifax but it’s not the same.”
O’Brien was willing to drop down to Blue Square Bet North with the Shaymen but Neil Aspin was not in a position to offer him a deal.
Then Oxford boss Chris Wilder contacted his agent a fortnight ago about a trial and the 24-year-old defender snapped his hand off.
Within a week, teenage loanee Sean McGinty had been sent back to Manchester United and O’Brien had a three-month contract.
He said: “It’s brilliant to be part of it again. You miss the banter every day and being one of the lads.
“This hopefully gives me long enough to impress down here, or at least get my name back out.”
Oxford skipper Jake Wright is a familiar face from their time rising through the youth ranks together at Valley Parade . Deane Smalley, on loan at City last season, is another.
And O’Brien is looking forward to seeing plenty more in the away side at the Kassam tomorrow.
“It will be nice to catch up with some of the lads but I’m an Oxford player now,” he said.
“Bradford are absolutely flying at the moment and the last few results haven’t gone our way. But it will be an excellent game and I’d love to be involved.”