JOE Skarz has left Oxford United by mutual consent after agreeing to cancel the final 12 months of his contract.

A lack of guaranteed first-team football next season has prompted the decision and the popular left back is expected to sign shortly for a Sky Bet League One club closer to his family in the north.

Skarz joined the U’s in January 2015 and barely missed a game until last season, when injuries and the form of Marvin Johnson limited him to 14 starts in the second half of the campaign.

Head coach Michael Appleton said: “Joe is the ultimate professional and has been a pleasure to work with.

“However, you always look to evolve and at this stage in his career Joe deserves first-team football and we can’t promise that for him here next season.

“I am sure he will have plenty of clubs talking to him and wherever he goes we wish him the very best of luck.”

Skarz, who started 105 games for the U’s, said: “I have loved my time at Oxford.

“There are people I have played with who I know will be friends for life.

“If it wasn’t for the manager I wouldn’t have enjoyed the last two-and-a-half years as much as I have.

“Our relationship has always been good and we had an honest chat just before Wembley in which we agreed on the future.

“To get promoted and get the club to Wembley twice in my time here is something I look back on very proudly.

“Thank you to everyone involved at the club and to the fans, who have been brilliant.”