SCOTT Shearer is more influential than anyone outside the Oxford United squad could imagine, according to Simon Eastwood.

Some supporters were surprised to see the U’s take up a 12-month extension on Shearer’s contract this week.

The 37-year-old goalkeeper has made just two appearances this season, in the Checkatrade Trophy.

But Eastwood, United’s No 1, believes the Scot’s role around the camp cannot be underestimated.

He said: “I know a lot of people haven’t seen him much, but the players and staff know what he’s like around the place and how big his influence is in the changing room.

“With the trouble we’ve been in he’s a main part of keeping the lads together and focused.

“He’s the life and soul and keeps everyone going.

“He has a joke, but when we’re working it’s serious, which is perfect.

“Then he takes it into the dressing room before the game, he’s the loudest person in there.

“I think that’s a dying breed in football. You have a lot of reserved characters who don’t say much before the game, when you want to be geed up.

“He’s a key part of that and the manager has seen it.”

Shearer staying has the added benefit of allowing the squad’s other goalkeepers – Jack Stevens, Manny Agboola and Niall Clayton – the chance to gain experience elsewhere.

Eastwood said: “For him to be here next season is good for the young lads to go out on loan and play games.

“He’s still a very good goalkeeper as well, so I’m looking forward to working with him again.”