YOUNG Wanderers defender Joe Riley believes regular game time at Oxford United will boost his chances of impressing when he returns to the Macron Stadium in the new year.

The 23-year-old right-back has been with the U's since the beginning of the season and Saturday's FA Cup first round win at Grimsby Town was his 19th appearance for Michael Appleton's side.

It is just the run of games that Riley hoped for when he agreed a five-month loan at the Kassam Stadium and he admits he is enjoying his spell with the League Two side.

The change of manager at Wanderers in his absence means he will have a fresh start on his return and he is relishing the opportunity after becoming slightly disillusioned with life under Neil Lennon's predecessor Dougie Freedman

Riley told the Oxford Mail: “I feel right at home here and will always give my all.

"I want to play every match I can

"I feel I have improved massively.

“The defensive side of my game can improve more, I know that, but I think it is getting better every game.

“The previous manager at Bolton didn’t have any belief in me, but to come down here and have someone that does believe in you, like the manager has done, is massive for me."

Naturally, Riley's aim is to force his way into the first-team reckoning at Wanderers and impress Lennon.

The Boothstown defender admits the future is still unclear but remains confident in his ability to play at Championship level.

And he feels he deserves a chance to make up for so much lost time at Wanderers after missing the whole of last season with an anterior cruciate knee ligament injury picked up in pre-season.

Riley made his Whites debut as a 19-year-old in a 2-1 Carling Cup win against Macclesfield Town in August 2011.

He then made his Premier League bow in the 5-0 home hammering of Stoke City the following November.

The youngster went on to chalk up seven first-team appearances in 2011/12 under Owen Coyle.

But a succession of injuries restricted him to just two senior appearances, both in cup competitions, the following season – his only outing under Freedman being his last in a Wanderers shirt in a 2-2 FA Cup draw with Sunderland in January 2013.

Back fit and playing first-team football at Oxford, Riley hopes to kick-start his Whites career in 2015.

Riley added: "I don’t know what Bolton’s thinking is (on his future).

"I am sure they want to have a look at me at some point, but I just want to keep playing.

“I think I deserve the chance there. I think if you speak to people at Bolton who know me I think they would say I do as well, but the way I have been treated down here is great.

“There has been a bit of contact, I managed to go back up and see their game the other night, but it’s all up in the air and out of my hands really at the moment, so we will have to wait and see.”