Oxford United starting talks with regulars

Bicester Advertiser: Ian Lenagan and former chairman Kelvin Thomas in the directors’ box at Saturday’s match Ian Lenagan and former chairman Kelvin Thomas in the directors’ box at Saturday’s match

IAN Lenagan expects some of Oxford United’s players who are into the final months of their contracts will be offered new deals before the end of the season.

Goalkeeper Ryan Clarke, top scorer James Constable, Sean Rigg and Michael Raynes are among the first-team regulars unsure of where they will be playing next season.

Clarke told the Oxford Mail last month it was playing on his mind, but Lenagan said negotiations had begun with certain players.

The United chairman declined to speak about individual cases, but revealed strategies were being put in place with manager Chris Wilder to decide the future of those in question.

He said: “Chris and I are already into those conversations.

“There aren’t many of them this year, which is fortunate and we have plans in every case for what will happen.

“I am confident we will achieve what we want, whether that’s to let them go or to keep them.”

He added: “I said at the end of last season I am never going to come into the beginning of a season needing to replace ten or 11 players. If we have to replace one, two or three that’s manageable.”

Anyone into the final six months of their contracts is available to be approached by other clubs, which would be the case for United’s group from next month.

When asked whether that was a risk the club were willing to take, Lenagan said: “Business is always a risk, but this is the time where you start to talk to players.

“If you are sitting top of the league and still in the FA Cup that’s quite a good place to be talking to players. Everybody who has joined in the last 12 months enjoys being here, and the ones who are here enjoy being here.

“One or two will move, whether it’s their volition or our choice, but we feel we have an excellent squad, the vast majority of which are capable of going forward.

“We take great care with the players, we talk to them very carefully.

“We are very open with them, we are talking to some of them now about extending contracts.

“In some cases they ask us, in some cases we ask them.”

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