OXFORD United have offered to add Christian Ribeiro to the coaching staff this season after the defender was forced into an immediate retirement.

At just 27, the medical advice from specialists over a knee injury which dates back to the start of his professional career is dreadful news, but a necessary move to reduce the impact on the rest of his life.

The defender’s value to the squad extended well beyond his on-pitch role, with the former Wales international an intelligent, calming influence in the dressing room.

Manager Pep Clotet has never had a player retire early before in his coaching career and plans to offer as much support as possible.

He said: “We understand it’s hard news.

“I think the big shock is in the next few weeks.

“From my point of view I want him to feel he can stay with us for this season.

“He obviously has to work on his knee and he can do it with us here.

“I would like him to stay here close to us because he has a positive influence.

“Everyone loves him and I think we can help him by paying back some of the effort he put in to help him get through this.

“I understand he might have a lot of projects, but as a club we offer that and if he feels up to it he can join the staff as well for this year and combine these things.”

It is particularly tough for a player who spent almost the whole of last season in the treatment room.

Having joined from Exeter City in May 2016, Ribeiro broke an ankle in pre-season.

It delayed his debut until April and he made just 17 appearances for the U’s.

Ribeiro said: “Retiring at 27 was something I never expected, but I couldn’t have asked for a better club to finish my playing career at.

“From the chairman right through the coaching staff and my fantastic teammates, everyone has been so supportive.”

Ribeiro is the third big injury blow which has hit the squad in less than a fortnight, following serious injuries to fellow regulars Curtis Nelson and Rob Hall.

  • United have announced they will fly to Spain on Sunday for warm-weather training.