OXFORD United's head of sports science Chris Short will leave the club this summer.

The 51-year-old joined the U's from Blackpool in November 2018, but confirmed he has taken an opportunity at Sky Bet Championship side Middlesbrough, located closer to his family in York.

He was hailed as a 'big coup' by head coach Karl Robinson when he arrived, initially as head of physical performance, following spells at Blackburn Rovers, Leicester City and Crystal Palace.

Short was joined on the staff by brother Craig when the latter became first-team coach last summer and he admitted moving on would be difficult.

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He told the club's official website: “It has been the toughest decision of my career because I genuinely love being here and Karl and the club have been amazing to me.

"The last two seasons have been incredible and the players and staff are like family.

"But my actual family are still based north of York and it’s time I put them first, for once.

"An opportunity came up much closer to home and after talking it through with everyone it just feels the right time to make that move back home.

“I am going to miss everyone but the club is in such good hands and I am sure it can only go forward from here.”

As a player, Short turned out for Sheffield United, Stoke City and Notts County.

He had coached at several higher-division clubs before joining United and was called a 'massive signing' by Robinson.

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The U's were 21st when Short arrived and manager and players felt their hard work on the training ground helped them end the season strongly and finish 12th.

Midfielder Cameron Brannagan said at the time: “Every day in training we work very hard and I’ve noticed it a lot of the time teams get tired but we’re always fit and ready."

Short extended his stay beyond an initial one-year deal, despite a distance of 200 miles between family and work.

He remained a popular figure as United reached the Sky Bet League One play-offs in the last two seasons, but will not be involved in the club's next promotion bid. 

Robinson revealed the U's were close to finding Short's successor.

He said: “Shorty is an amazing man, not just brilliant at his job but also someone who people just warm to straight away.

"It says so much about him that he agonised over this decision but it is the right one for him and his family and he goes with all our love and blessing.

"He has made an outstanding contribution here and we will miss him.

"He has helped us identify the right people to step into his shoes- we’ll finalise that and announce it soon - but on behalf of everyone behind the scenes we thank Chris and wish him well for the future.”