RELEASED midfielder Stuart Massey says Oxford United could have done more to help him following the injury which looks certain to end his career.

The 33-year-old fans' favourite suffered damaged medial and cruciate ligaments in his knee following a tackle by Peter Beardsley at Manchester City in March.

He faces another six months on the sidelines as he fights to recover from the nightmare injury, and now he has been released by United his future is clouded by even greater uncertainty.

Massey, who made 100 league appearances for United, said: "I didn't really expect too much, knowing the club's financial situation, but considering that I am badly injured, it is very disappointing that they have just dumped me really.

"I understand from Malcolm (Shotton) that there is may be a possibility of a benefit game to give me some sort of finances, but, in truth, I am very disappointed in the way the club has let me go.

"I can understand their point of view, but I still find it difficult. Now I have got to try and find work with a knee that is a mess. If I had been given six months, I would have been fit and able to go out and work.

"I think I have done pretty well for the club, and I've always been honest. I find it difficult to accept what they have done. "I don't want to sound bitter or anything, but I would like to think they would look after their senior pros. But if finance is everything, then so be it."

Massey reported that the operation on his medial ligament had proved a success so far, and he was due to have the cruciate operation next month.

But he is resigned to the fact that his career as a professional footballer is over.

"I cannot see a situation where a club is going to offer me anything." he said. "No-one is going to take me now because of the simple fact that they know of my previous injury.

"It is difficult enough to get a job as it is without having a injury on top."

Massey, a qualified electrician, added that he couldn't resume his old trade for a while - even if he was able to get a job - because of his injury.

"The PFA say they will look after me for a period of time, but obviously it is not a bottomless pit," he added.

Shotton said: "I feel gutted that I have had to release him, but a club this size cannot afford to carry people who are not going to be pushing for first-team places."

United also released long-serving skipper Mike and striker Martin Aldridge.

Shotton said of Ford: "He has been a magnificent servant to the football club, and we didn't really want him sitting in the reserves. I think he is better than that."

Aldridge has spent two months on loan at Southend, and Shotton said: "He has not figured since I have been here and with the wages I might be able to bring in someone who could fight for a first team place.

Converted for the new archive on 30 June 2000. Some images and formatting may have been lost in the conversion.