George Baldock – The Don Returns

It has just been announced that George Baldock will be returning to the Kassam Stadium on a season-long loan after he impressed in the 12 games he played for the U’s last season.

Baldock, 22, played 12 consecutive games for United scoring one goal in dramatic

fashion as he lofted the ball into the back of the net in the final minutes against Morecambe.

George Baldock had to say:

“I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Oxford and am more than happy to be back. We got on a decent run and the team finished really strongly.

If you look at the players that the club have signed this summer then there is even more quality and depth to the squad this time around and that makes coming back for a longer period a very exciting challenge for me.

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Baldock in action for MK Dons

“The fans were great, the club is ambitious and I’m looking forward to joining up with everyone this week and getting a full pre-season under my belt.”

The MK Dons man will be joining up with the Oxford squad tomorrow alongside new signings Kemar Roofe, Liam Sercombe, Ryan Taylor and Sam Slocombe where they will be undertaking a training camp at RAF Benson.

Michael Appleton adds:

“We are really pleased to have George back again. He fitted in superbly last season, he is a local lad and he is ambitious to be part of a successful side here. The fans took to him straight away and we think he is only going to get better the more games he plays at right back. Most importantly he is hungry and he wanted to come back to Oxford, which I think speaks volumes for the way the club is heading.”

In other news Ryan Clarke is set to move away from The Kassam as Michael Appleton revealed this morning that he would be surprised if the U’s stopper was a Yellow come the end of the week.

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Who is Ian Evatt?

After being linked with the Spireite by numerous media outlets this afternoon, I ask the question to who exactly is Ian Evatt?

Standing at 6ft 3, Evatt is a towering centre half, who has played for the majority of his career way above League Two. This includes one prominent season in the Premier League where he accumulated 38 appearances over the course of the campaign.Ian+Evatt+Chesterfield+v+Northampton+Town+F1VrQC3x02Hl

He joined his current club Chesterfield in 2013 helping to guide them to promotion from League Two. He has since made 73 appearances for the Spireites and this season Evatt captained them to a surprise spot in the League One play offs.

Oxford are rumoured to be interested in the centre-half and a 2/3 year could tempt him away from the Proact Stadium.

Sam Slocombe – Player Profile

It was announced this morning that former Iron stopper Sam Slocombe has joined the U’s on a two-year-deal following his release from Scunthorpe.

cd8f7450-9efe-11e4-be24-dbbb09f1e49b_Slocombe

  • Age: 27
  • Nationality: English
  • Height: 6ft (1.83m)
  • Weight: 74.83kg
  • Scunthorpe Appearances: 115

His career began at Bottesford Town where he attracted the attention of the League One side who consequently submitted a £3,000 fee for the goalkeeper’s services. He made his debut in 2009 for ‘Scunny’ and has since accumulated over 100 appearances, becoming a firm favourite amongst the fans over his seven year stint at the club.

Best Attributes

Slocombe has been renowned for his exceptional reactionary shot-stopping abilities and has been labelled his best within his own 6 yard box. This is an invaluable attribute to have and below is a clip of what we should hope to see from the new man:

Also his supreme penalty saving record. Many U’s fans will remember the excellent penalty save he pulled off during the meeting between the two sides in the 2013/14 season where he excellently tipped Deane Smalley’s low strike past the post:

U’s sign Taylor

Ryan Taylor is the next to join the U’s following on from the additions of Kemar Roofe and Liam Sercombe a fortnight ago.

The target-man was not offered a contract from Portsmouth after Paul Cook arrived from Chesterfield and has signed a two-year deal with Oxford.

Ryan+Taylor+Portsmouth+v+Northampton+Town+oN6yRRMd5_4l
Ryan Taylor in action for Portsmouth

The 27 year-old has accumulated 55 appearances for Portsmouth, scoring 15 times during his time on the south coast.

Taylor has also played for Rotherham, Burton, Exeter and Bristol City scoring 41 goals in his 10 year and 240 appearance career.

Michael Appleton is pleased to bring in the 6ft 2 forward:

“Ryan is another really strong addition to the squad. He works hard, scores goals, he leads the line really well and he is someone you know is going to make life very hard for opposition defenders. He was one of the best forwards in the division last season and we are delighted to have him here.”

Mark Ashton added:

“I think it’s another big signing for us. Ryan will bring us something different, a physicality we probably haven’t got at the moment and we’re delighted to have him here”

Ryan Taylor had himself to say:

“It’s an exciting move for me. Oxford have big plans and I have been very impressed by the set-up and by the ambition that everyone has shown. They proved what they can do during the second half of last season and I’m looking forward to reporting back for pre-season, getting to know the lads and being part of a successful side here.”

Skarz Pens Three-Year-Deal

Joe Skarz
Joe Skarz playing for Rotherham

United fullback Joe Skarz has agreed to sign a three year contract after a successful spell under Appleton since arriving in the January window. Skarz, despite only being 25, has accumalated over 300 Football League appearances and brings a great deal of experience and professionalism into the U’s back four. The defender has won promotions from League Two with both Bury and Rotherham and a further promotion from League One in successive seasons with Steve Evans’ side. Joe himself is delighted at agreeing the contract:

“I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at the club and am really looking forward to next season. The Board and the Manager are very ambitious and have big plans for the club and I want to play a part in that. Everyone, from the players to the fans, has made me feel very welcome and we ended the season so positively that I can’t wait to get back for pre-season and playing again.”

Michael Appleton is pleased to start the summer spending spree this way and was pleased to retain Skarz on a long-term contract:

“Joe is an excellent defender and a great pro to have around the club. He has won promotion from this league, and the one above, and his experience will be a massive plus for us next season. There was a lot of interest from other clubs but it speaks volumes for Oxford United that he has seen what we are starting to build here and wants to be involved”

Joe Skarz Skarz has been pivotal in the U’s up-turn in form, playing 18 games during his spell and contributing towards a run that stretched to 8 unbeaten. This is a deal that I’m sure will excite U’s fans as he has undoubtedly proved his worth over the course of the campaign.

Retain or Release? I look at the players out of contract and give my opinion on their futures

Oxford are due to release their player retain list tomorrow so I will take an in-depth look at the players who are out of contract and give my opinion on their futures. The list of out-of-contract players (As taken from The Oxford Mail) are as follows:

  • Danny Rose
  • Jake Wright
  • Andy Whingoufc v wba
  • Will Hoskins
  • Jamie Ashdown
  • Jonathan Meades
  • Joe Skarz
  • Max Crocombe
  • Sam Long
  • Josh Shama
  • Sam Humphreys
  • Aiden Hawtin
  • Matt Bevans
  • Jéremy Balmy

Retain

Danny Rose – Spent most of the season sat on the sidelines but since coming into the fray in the final third of the season, Rose has certainly been a big factor in the U’s fantastic end-of-season run-in. He has given the midfield a different dimension and provides energy and creativity. Definitely keep.

Jake Wright – Been criticised throughout the season for below par performances but as the season has progressed so has he. With the addition of Skarz and Baldock the back-four have stabilised and have become very convincing – this has also sparked the U’s captain to rekindle some of his form we are more familiar with. It would be nonsensical to release our captain who has such a cultured centre-half partnership with Mullins.

Jamie Ashdown – Fantastic cover for Clarke and would allow Crocombe a full season out on-loan, which I believe is much needed. A very composed figure with a large stature and has certainly impressed in the final five games despite one prominent error in the home game against Northampton.

Joe Skarz – Has solidified the defence and brings much needed experience. At only 25 he has made over 300 appearances in the Football League. I love his traditional style, and although not entirely effective going forward, he is defensively sound. Retain retain retain!

Max Crocombe – Fantastic prospect with a bright future ahead. Needs a season out on-loan but he is already making a name for himself particularly at Nuneaton Town where he made five consecutive clean-sheets. He also put in a marvellous performance away at West-Brom, saving 3 penalties in the shoot-out. May have to be patient with him before he becomes a regular but retain nevertheless.

Sam Long – Providing excellent cover before at centre-half and more recently at right-back, Long’s defensive ability collaboratively with attacking threat are two fantastic traits to have as a fullback. Contract talks are seemingly already underway as Appleton is unsurprisingly keen to keep him.

Sam Humphreys – Made his debut away at Newport and Appleton has spoken highly of him. Has made a number of appearances on the subs bench, however only making one appearance. Seems to have a future ahead of him at Oxford

Aiden Hawtin – Seems to be very focussed and has a tenacity to succeed. After multiple serious injury set-backs he finally made his professional debut away at Tranmere. Will be someone to look at in coming seasons

Matt Bevans – Missed this season with injury but based on the previous campaign he plays with a maturity and is an adequate right-back at League Two level. Lets hope that injury hasn’t thwarted his development too much.

Release

Andy Whing – I do love Whingy, I really do. However age is slowly getting the better of this robust figure and injuries are taking their toll. Talks of him getting a role behind the scenes is more than welcomed and I’m sure I speak for all Oxford fans that we would love him to stay at the club in some way.

Will Hoskins – This one is fairly self-explanatory. Injuries have seem him sidelined for almost the entirety of the season and, although I have regarded his performances highly when he has played, if we are only going to see him for 5-10 games a season, he simply isn’t worth the money.

Jonathan Meades – Has certainly not lived up to the player he was supposed to be and seemingly isn’t in Appleton’s plans. During brief appearances he looked very nervous on the ball and was ineffectual at best. Release.

Josh Shama – Doesn’t seem to be near to first-team quality quite yet. Although I haven’t seen him play too much, when I have during pre-season and whatnot, he wasn’t overly impressive.

Jéremy Balmy – Part of the famous Le Havre set-up, Balmy hasn’t lived up to the expectations with him failing to register a place on the bench during his six months at the club.

That concludes my round-up of players who I would retain and release. Feel free to get involved on Twitter if you have any disagreements or would like to share your own views on the matter.

Vassell brought in to help the U’s

Peterborough striker Kyle Vassell has arrived at the Kassam Stadium on loan for the remainder of the season. It has come as no surprise after Appleton vouched that he was back in the market after United’s strikers have had a torrid time in front of goal – with no goals scored from open play in 11. Vassell himself had to say:

“I’m delighted to be here. Hopefully I can score some goals and help Oxford in the remaining games this season”kyle-vassell-cele-mk-dons-4-3119-1832944_478x359

The Posh striker has registered 5 Sky Bet League One goals this season and gives United another option in the final third. If Vassell is to feature on Saturday he will be the 43rd player to make a U’s appearance this season after one of United’s busiest ever seasons in the transfer market.

In other news loanees Giorgio Rasulo and Armand Gnanduillet have returned to their respective parent clubs after being recalled for lack of game time. Also prospect Balmy has joined Oxford City on loan for the remainder of the season.