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Exclusive: Oxford flier Hall preparing for Wembley return in modest company

Date Posted,March 30, 2017

Oxford winger Rob Hall was in illustrious company the last time he was at Wembley.

Hall, 23, was alongside the likes of Ross Barkley, Harry Kane and Jack Butland back in August 2010 as part of England’s under-17s European Championship winning team.

Former West Ham starlet Hall scored en route to the final in Liechtenstein where they beat Spain 2-1 and the young Lions were rewarded with a half time presentation three months later as England’s seniors beat Hungary in a friendly.

The likes of Barkley, Kane and Butland have graduated into the senior set-up while Hall will return to Wembley on Sunday in the Checkatrade Trophy final determined to kick start his career and get back to the top.

Hall said: “We had a very good team, a good squad and picking up the award at half time was the It’s the only time I’ve been to Wembley before. We got to watch the game and got a great reception from the crowd.

Hall and Oxford are bidding for Wembley glory (Photo: Mark Thompson / Getty)

“It will be great to go back. A lot of players have come through that age group and sometimes you just don’t know who will make it. But there was a lot of good talent – Connor Wickham, Benik Afobe and Saido Berahino.

“I started at West Ham, you get fantastic support there and it’s a brilliant club for youngsters. You learn so much, it’s a great set-up and the fans give you so much support.

“They’ve got such a great tradition of producing youngsters and you can see why.

“It was going well, then you get different managers, you go out on loan and get a few setbacks and so much of it is down to a bit of luck and getting the right breaks.”

Hall signed for West Ham at seven, was seen as a big prospect, made four first team appearances before being farmed out on loan, starting with Oxford back in 2011 and his journey also took him to MK Dons and Birmingham.

Hall in action against Chelsea in the Checkatrade Trophy (Photo: Chelsea FC via Getty)

But it went badly wrong when he suffered a cruciate knee ligament injury 11 months ago, although Oxford showed admirable faith by giving him a two year contract despite the blow.

Hall is desperate to repay that loyalty to Oxford and their boss Michael Appleton against Coventry on Sunday and he hopes a Wembley victory will also signal the beginning of an upward path in his career.

Hall added: “It’s been very hard because you reach a point where you’re sitting in your bedroom, ice machine on your knee and literally thinking: ‘what am I going to do now?’

“The phone had been ringing with Championship clubs then it suddenly stopped.

“I spoke to Oxford on the Friday, I’d signed by the Monday and they have put so much faith in me. They have been so supportive, the medical staff have been great and my mum, dad and brother have been great.

“You do still think: ‘can I play at a higher level?’ I feel I can. But it’s up to me now to prove a few people wrong.”

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