RYAN Clarke admits signing a new contract at Oxford United has lifted a weight off his mind.

The goalkeeper agreed a deal earlier this week which could see him stay at the club until 2017.

Negotiations did not take long and Clarke is happy to have the issue cleared up.

“It’s a massive relief and it’s nice to have it sorted,” he said.

“I was happy to do it, it was a bit of a no-brainer for me to stay.

“I love it here and I want to stay loyal.

“We’re in a great position, so for me it was a case of wanting to get it done as soon as possible so I could concentrate on my football.”

With the goalkeeper in excellent form as part of a team challenging for promotion, he would have caught the attention of other clubs.

But Clarke, whose fiancée is expecting their first child in May, had no desire to run the contract down and look elsewhere.

He said: “It was worth more to me to have it sorted.

“If it had come to that at the end of the season I would have backed myself to find another club, but I didn’t want to do that.

“I’m settled here and it would have to be something really big for me to go as far as I’m concerned.

“I’m at a great club that’s in a great position, with a great bunch of lads.

“The main thing is we have a good chance of going up this year, I really do believe that.

“Those were the factors that were in it, plus there was the peace of mind as well, for family reasons.”

Oxford Mail:

  • Ryan Clarke on the day he signed for Oxford United in May 2009

Clarke will be attempting to keep a fifth successive clean sheet in Sky Bet League Two when AFC Wimbledon visit tomorrow.

It has been a remarkable comeback for the stopper, who 12 months ago was recovering from the first of two shoulder operations.

He said: “I’m not going to lie, it’s been such a stressful time.

“As far as I know no other professional goalkeeper has had double-shoulder surgery.

“It was a long road back, but the self-satisfaction I get out of it in terms of how hard I worked.

“To get back to the form I like to think I’ve been in is pretty pleasing.”