OXFORD United are planning to activate a clause in Liam Sercombe’s contract for next season – but it is not because the midfielder is in their plans for the future.
The 26-year-old has not been selected for the last three games due to unspecified ‘disciplinary reasons’.
Head coach Michael Appleton confirmed yesterday there had been no change in the situation heading into tomorrow’s trip to Millwall.
With only one more game to play after this weekend, it looks like Sercombe has played his last match for United.
But while the former Exeter City player’s contract expires this summer, the U’s have an option to extend it for an additional 12 months.
When asked whether the club planned to do it with the intention of selling him for a fee during the close season, Appleton simply said: “Yes.”
It is a decision which is unlikely to go down well with supporters who believe Sercombe – with 22 goals in 101 appearances – still has a role to play.
But if Appleton has made up his mind, the move makes sense financially.
There will be no shortage of interest in Sercombe if he is available, particularly given the starring role he played in helping the side win automatic promotion from Sky Bet League Two last season.
United clearly believe they can receive a transfer fee, which would easily offset any wages they paid before a deal was tied up.
Elsewhere, Appleton says “tentative conversations” have taken place with some players in the squad he would like to retain, while deliberately delaying starting talks with others.
He said: “I want players who want to play for Oxford United and if you don’t, you can leave. It’s as simple as that.
“I do things slightly differently at times and I know how certain players work.
“Sometimes putting an offer in front of someone isn’t the best thing to do.
“I will always manage for the benefit of Oxford United and not certain players.
“I don’t want Oxford United to be a bargaining tool.”