OXFORD United intend to open contract negotiations in the next few weeks as they look to tie down key players to new deals before the end of the season.

There are 16 players, or two-thirds of the first-team squad, whose contracts are due to expire at the end of the season.

Although the club have options to invoke one-year extensions on some of the group, including Alfie Potter, a high proportion of players are facing uncertainty.

In recent years, the U’s have offered extensions to important players well before the end of their deals.

No talks have taken place with players so far, but United chairman Ian Lenagan is expecting to make progress shortly.

He said: “It’s an important arena. It’s not something we’ve finalised yet, but we will be doing so over the next four to six weeks.

“Absolutely, there are some people that you clearly want to keep and we want them because we believe they can take Oxford United up the divisions. It’s important to keep them.”

He added: “We have a strong idea of what the future make-up of the Oxford team is, and my principle is sign people up who you judge to be good enough to go forward with the club, and sign them up for a considerable period of time.”

Lenagan explained the lack of negotiation so far this season had not been by design.

Instead, other matters have taken priority, such as more short-term personnel issues during the side’s struggle for form earlier in the season.

He said: “We have been somewhat pre-occupied with bailing out an injured ship. “Secondly, in juggling the signing of players. It’s been very difficult over the last two to three months.

“Decisions like whether to let Lee Cox and Forster-Caskey go back and how you supplement the team with other people when you’re juggling injuries up front.”

United’s out-of-contract players.

Damian Batt, Tony Capaldi, Tom Craddock, Max Crocombe, Liam Davis, Michael Duberry, Simon Heslop, Peter Leven, Tyrone Marsh, Luke O’Brien, Josh Parker, Jon-Paul Pittman, Alfie Potter, Deane Smalley, Andy Whing, Harry Worley.