HERBIE Kane is crucial to Oxford United’s hopes of reaching the next level.

That is the view of Karl Robinson, speaking after the Barnsley loanee showed his class to help the U’s regain momentum in Sky Bet League One.

Kane starred in last week’s 1-1 draw with Gillingham and the 5-1 victory over Accrington Stanley, before an equally influential display at Sheffield Wednesday ended prematurely when the midfielder felt pain in his hamstring.

The former Liverpool trainee has been given a few days off to rest the injury, but is expected to be available for next Saturday’s visit of Plymouth Argyle.

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Robinson is desperate to keep Bristol-born Kane fit and believes he could make the difference as the U’s hunt promotion from Sky Bet League One.

The U’s head coach said: “I’ve not hidden the fact that this is one of the signings I was so excited about.

“He holds the key to this football club being in the Championship – I think he’s that good.

“We need to have those players on permanents, we all know that.

“He likes being back down south for the first time in a long time.

“Cameron Brannagan has played with him at youth level and they’re very close.

“He gives me tremendous flexibility, we don’t lose our attacking prowess when he’s on the pitch because he’s a forward-thinking footballer.”

Since joining United, the 22-year-old has played in deep and advanced midfield roles.

Robinson added: “Him and Cameron is almost my dream midfield.

“Our club is certainly going from strength to strength with the calibre of players we’re starting to bring into the building.”

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Kane started at Bristol City’s academy, but moved to Liverpool aged 15 and featured twice for the first team in late 2019.

He had already made 49 appearances on loan at Doncaster Rovers in 2018/19, despite only turning 20 during the season, helping the club reach the League One play-offs.

Kane has since played 33 Sky Bet Championship matches for Hull City and Barnsley, after joining the latter for £1.25m last October.

He featured regularly until March, but missed the end of the season through injury and was short of game-time when he joined the U’s on the penultimate day of the transfer window.

Before last week, Kane had not started three matches in seven days since last December.

Robinson said: “He’s not played any football and gone game, game, game.

“We knew there was always a risk in (him playing) the game at the weekend.

“It would have been a seven-to-eight day injury, so the fact we don’t play this week is brilliant.

“He might not train until Thursday, but don’t forget the first time he played for us (at Cambridge United) he hadn’t trained for ten days and was the best player on the pitch.”