Clarke: I'd love to stay at Oxford United

9:30am Friday 29th November 2013

By David Pritchard

RYAN Clarke is keen to clear up his future at Oxford United after admitting the uncertainty was playing on his mind.

The goalkeeper is one of several first-team regulars, including James Constable, Sean Rigg and Deane Smalley, whose contracts expire at the end of this season.

Talks are yet to begin with Clarke, who made his 200th start for United in Tuesday’s goalless draw with Newport.

Manager Chris Wilder used his programme notes to describe the stopper as “one of the best signings I have ever made”.

The 31-year-old wants to sign a new deal, but is keen to hear about it sooner rather than later.

Clarke, whose fiancée is expecting their first child next year, admitted the uncertainty is hard to completely ignore.

“Of course it is,” he said. “I have got a little one on the way, so I’m not going to lie, it is in the back of my mind.

“That is part of football, but whatever happens I’ll back myself.

“I would love to stay here and I think we have a really good chance of going up this year. The main thing is I want to be part of that.

“Seasons do fly by and you do see people leave at the end of them, it’s not nice when you’ve worked with them.

“You never want to be a part of that.”

Clarke missed the second half of last season following surgery to repair damage to both shoulders.

If United were holding back on talks to see if the lay-off had made a negative impact, they should have their answers by now.

The former Bristol Rovers trainee is part of the best defence in Sky Bet League Two, conceding just 14 goals in 18 games to help the side lead the way.

“I think I’m at the top of my game,” he said.

“It’s the best form I’ve been in, apart from maybe the season in the Conference when we kept a lot of clean sheets, although I didn’t have a lot to do in the games.

“People always say keepers get better with age. When I was younger I used to think it was the other way round because you’re a lot more athletic at the start of your career.

“But I’ll hold my hands up and say you do mature in terms of decision-making.

“ I couldn’t wish to be behind a better defence and the league table shows that.”

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