Ryan Clarke: Keeper unsure of Oxford United first-team future

Ryan Clarke
Oxford were a non-league side when Clarke joined them six years ago

Oxford goalkeeper Ryan Clarke has said he is uncertain over his first-team future at the League Two club.

The 33-year-old has made 264 appearances for Michael Appleton's side since joining from Northwich in 2009.

"For me, I think the bottom line is I'm unsure whether I'm in the first-team plans," Clarke told BBC Radio Oxford.

"Football's a funny old game. If it comes down to it and I'm here, I'm going to give 100 per cent and fight for my place in pre-season as always."

Clarke missed the first 10 league games of last season because of injury and Jamie Ashdown stepped into the side once Oxford's safety was confirmed.

New Zealander Max Crocombe also provides competition in goal at the Kassam Stadium.

Oxford United's summer signings
Kemar Roofe, from West Brom (undisclosed fee)
Liam Sercombe, from Exeter (out of contract)
Ryan Taylor, from Portsmouth

"I've had an open and honest chat with the gaffer at the end of the season, like all the other players did, about my future going forward and sometimes in football you've got to read between the lines," Clarke added.

"I think it's along the lines of if an opportunity came up for me to move on then he (Appleton) certainly wouldn't stand in my way. It's the same with anyone else who might be in my situation.

"I'm at an age now where I'm peaking as a goalkeeper and the next few years are absolutely massive for me. I need to be playing."

The U's have already signed three players since the end of the season and are looking to bring in several more.

Clarke, who won the club's player of the year award as they gained promotion to the Football League in 2010, still has two years left on his contract having signed a three-year deal in January 2014.

"Obviously for me I'd love to stay here and be a part of what's going on. I think we're going to do really well next year," he added. "I've never really expected to be guaranteed to play, or wanted that guarantee."

"I'm still here at the moment and if the opportunity does come up it has to be right for me and my family.

"I've been privileged to be here for a long time and it's been a great part of my career, so long may that continue."

Oxford chief executive Mark Ashton refused to be drawn on Clarke's future, saying: "I'm long enough in the tooth to know that nothing is impossible. Ryan has to fight for his place - others have to fight for their places - it's going to be a very competitive, tight squad next year."

Speaking about fellow keeper Ashdown, whose deal runs out at the end of the month, Ashton added: "We know what we're doing internally and as soon as we can we'll communicate that, because it's a key position for us."