FOLLOWING a sixteen year stint on the subs' bench, Roy of the Rovers is taking to the pitch once again but with a new look.

Roy Race, a striker for the fictional Melchester Rovers, was a hero for generations of football fans when he starred in comics from 1954 to 2001.

Unfortunately, sixteen years ago the golden-haired player hung up his football boots when Match of the Day magazine ceased production.

But now, Rebellion Publishing - the Osney Mead company who also produce Judge Dredd and 2000AD - are bringing Roy back ready for the kick off of the 2018/9 football season.

Rob Power, Brand Manager for Roy of the Rovers, told the Oxford Mail: "We're still working on a new look for Roy. He's known for a very seventies haircut so we're definitely going to be making him more modern.

"We're not starting from where we left off, it's a whole new story. He's not going to have long hair anymore and he's a young 15 year old - the original Roy would be pretty old by now, he was 15 in 1954".

Mr Power added "We'll have some old favourites, but it will be mostly new ones. But some Dads might be able to recognise a few things."

The publishers aren't sure if they will be able to use real life Premiership players as they did in the past as image rights are much trickier to secure than they once were but Rebellion said they are 'definitely trying'.

Mr Power said; "There's not much out there now in terms of football comics. Roy's been away for 16 years so there's a whole generation of readers that's grown up without him.

"Our plan is to launch three graphic novels and three tie-in annuals aimed at 9-12 year olds, but hopefully by working with the top comic talent in the UK and Ireland we'll hit that sweet spot where older readers and parents can enjoy it too."

First launched in the 1950s, there was a Roy of the Rovers comic until 1995. At this point it moved to the Match of Day magazine but the Roy Race was no more when that ceased publication in 2001.

Rebellion acquired the rights to Roy of the Rovers from Egmont UK in 2016

Ben Smith, head of books and publishing at Rebellion, described Roy as 'one of the few truly iconic characters in British comics'.

He said: "We look forward to bringing Roy to modern audiences in a completely fresh incarnation that honours the extraordinary legacy of the character.

"We will be telling stories that connect with readers both young and old.

"There is a dearth of football-related fiction on the shelves, and we're looking forward to correcting that, whilst giving a classic British comic character a new lease of life in the process."