Oxford United returned from international duty this week and picked up an important win on the road at Fleetwood.
Elsewhere, a former player has returned to the club but one player has been forced into retirement due to injury.
Oxford United Weekly Round-Up: Win Over Cod Army Moves the U’s Up to Third in League One
U’s Legend Takes on New Role
Oxford United legend James Constable has returned to the club as the new Head of Player Care in the academy.
The former striker, who ended his Oxford tenure just one goal short of Graham Atkinson’s club record, replaces another former player, Eddie Odhiambo.
Speaking to the club’s official website, ‘Beano’ said: “First of all I am so happy to be coming back to a club that means so much to me.
“I loved playing for Oxford, have still been involved on matchdays and am excited to be back full time.
“The role involves mentoring the young players in the academy, making sure everything is alright with them, working with the coaches and staff and building on the amazing work that Eddie did here.
“The academy is building and developing all the time and I’m looking forward to helping in any way I can.”
Head of Academy Stevie Kinniburgh welcomed Constable, adding: “Eddie did a wonderful job and we needed someone special to follow that up.
“James isn’t just here because of his love for the club. He is here because he has excellent communication skills, he has that terrific work ethic that we all saw as a player, and he also has a different view that he can pass on to our young players: he didn’t go straight into senior football, he had to prove himself and find a different route, in the same way that he has returned to football after a spell out of the game.
“He is a great role model and a fantastic ambassador for the club and I am sure everyone will make him more than welcome.”
Positive Stadium News
Oxford’s search for a new stadium took a positive step forward this week after officers recommended leasing or selling land to the club.
The U’s are looking to build a new stadium just south of Kidlington, north of the city, as their current licence at Grenoble Road expires in 2026.
Now, the latest reports claim that Oxfordshire County Council officers have advised the local authority’s cabinet to approve using council-owned land for a new stadium.
The recommendation includes a condition that the club must produce a net zero plan when it comes to building the stadium and the agreement that the use of the land is for football and/or community sports.
If the cabinet approves the lease or sale at the next meeting on September 19, the club will then need planning approval from Cherwell District Council.
Oxford United Striker Retires
On Thursday, Oxford striker Sam Baldock announced his retirement from football.
The forward turned out 11 times for the club after initially penning a short-term deal in February 2022.
He scored four goals in seven games before picking up a knee injury but was awarded a new deal in the summer.
The boyhood U’s fan spoke on his retirement, saying: “Injuries definitely plagued my time here and my career.
“It’s something when you put so much effort in, to try and get back fit time and time again, it eventually just wears you down.
“That’s what happened to me. At the end of the time that I was playing here, I was going on the pitch just thinking what was going to happen next.
“In my last game, I knew I was undercooked and wasn’t really ready.
“But the timing of everything around the club, the league position we were in, the pressure under the manager and just how desperate I was to be back fit and be contributing.
“Inevitably my body broke down again and I’ve just got to the stage where I can’t keep putting people through it.
“It’s not fair on my family, it’s not fair on the club, it’s not fair on the fans or the players, and it’s not fair on me, so that’s why I felt the time was right to stop playing.”
Now, Baldock has taken on a new role at the club as a business development analyst.
The 34-year-old explained: “It’s a role that came into fruition with help from the manager. Tim [Williams, chief executive] and Grant [Ferguson, chairman] are also on board with it.
“It’s a role where I’ll be spending a couple of months at a time in each department, so looking at the commercial side of the club, moving on to the academy, then assisting with recruitment and then finally coaching alongside the manager.”
Win on the Road at Fleetwood
Oxford returned from international duty and picked up an impressive three points at Fleetwood.
Goals from Stanley Mills, Billy Bodin and Kyle Edwards secured the win and moved the U’s up to third in League One.
It was also a first clean sheet since the second league match of the campaign so there were plenty of positives to take from the trip.