Mark Oxley has spent the last six years “on the road”, flitting between a series of loan deals which have taken him from Hull via Walsall, Grimsby, Burton and Oldham to Edinburgh.
But now, the Hibs goalkeeper admits it’s time to put down roots and find a club he can call home. The 24-year-old admitted, though, at this stage he’s still uncertain as to where that might be.
Out of contract at the end of the season, Oxley concedes he’s unlikely to return to Hull City, his desire being to continue enjoying the claim he’s had at Easter Road of being recognised as the No.1 rather than being forced to settle for a role as an understudy.
Brought in initially on a six-month deal by Alan Stubbs, Oxley had his stay in the Capital extended until the end of the season and, despite the January arrival of former Hamilton goalkeeper Tomas Cerny, has thus far kept hold of the gloves as the Hibees have stepped up the battle for a second-place finish in the Championship.
However, while his future may appear uncertain at this moment, the big Yorkshireman insisted that’s very much on the back-burner, his total focus set on ensuring Stubbs’ side clinch a play-off place and, with it, the chance to regain the club’s Premiership status.
Oxley’s thinking will be influnced, of course, by whether Hibs do make the step up – as will what other offers are available in a few months time.
He does, though, believe his time at Easter Road will prove beneficial whatever the outcome. He said: “At this stage in my career, I have been out on loan too many times for my liking. I just want to settle somewhere now, if that’s here or somewhere else. I’m just looking to play as many games as I can. But I’m leaving that in my agent’s hands.
“There’s still a long way to go in the season and I’m just concentrating on that for the moment. The main reason for me coming out on loan this year was to get playing so, if I don’t get anything at Hull, then I’m in the shop window and that has stood me in good stead so far. I’m 25 later in the year and I don’t want to go back and be on the bench. Once you have a taste of it and especially when you have been playing at big grounds like I have been up here, you don’t want to go back to sitting on the bench.
“This is my fifth or sixth loan and I understand it is part and parcel of the game, a way to go out and get games and learn. But I am at the stage now where I want to settle somewhere.
“I have loved it ever since I came up here from day one, playing every week has been massive for me. It’s been most valuable in terms of coming to another country, living here and experiencing football here. Last year, I had a season on loan which was pretty similar to this but, at that time, I was at Oldham and they were down at the other end of the table and that’s a different experience. Now we are up at the top end and the pressure is on us to be winning.”
And Oxley believes Hibs have momentum behind them going into the business end of the season, Stubbs’ side having suffered just one defeat in their last 18 league games, a run culminating in a third-successive victory over Rangers.
Hibs sit one point behind the Ibrox club after their 2-1 win at Raith last night. Oxley admitted that, with Kenny McDowall’s players having games in hand, finishing second is going to prove to be a tough proposition although he insisted an Easter Road squad boosted by five January arrivals is as strong as any other in the Championship.
He said: “We didn’t play as well as we would have liked at Ibrox but I thought defensively and as a group we showed a different side to us, that when we need to we can stick in there. Maybe earlier in the season we wouldn’t have been able to do that so I think that shows how far we have come.
“If you are not playing well and still picking up results at places like Rangers, that shows how good this group is. But it does make the points we dropped at the start of the season all the more frustrating,
“We just need to look forward now and keep the run going. Getting into second place was always going to be hard, but now we are there, it’s going to be even harder staying there. It’s all right going to places like Ibrox and getting the results – but we have to go to lesser places and, if you are not picking up points there, then it’s all worthless.”