OXFORD United have snapped up experienced left back Joe Bennett on a short-term deal.

The 33-year-old arrives as a free agent until the end of January, and at a crucial time for United, following the calf injury picked up by Greg Leigh while on international duty with Jamaica.

Bennett began his career at Middlesbrough, making 92 appearances in all competitions, before joining Aston Villa in the Premier League, in August 2012 for a reported fee of £2.5 million.

His four-year stint at Villa Park included loan spells with Brighton & Hove Albion, AFC Bournemouth and Sheffield Wednesday.

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He then joined Cardiff City, where he played 177 times, before signing for Wigan Athletic in August 2021.

Bennett spent two years at the DW Stadium, and played 16 times for the club last season prior to leaving in the summer.

U’s head coach Des Buckingham said: “Joe’s a very experienced player across the English Football League, and he’s played at the top levels.

“With Greg picking up his injury, and with Sam Long also still out and not expected back for another two weeks, it puts a lot of pressure on those players currently playing, to play every game.

“To be able to bring someone in of Joe’s calibre and quality will enable us to hopefully continue playing well and picking up results.

“We’ve had him in for the last week training with us, and done very well, but he hasn’t played since the end of last season, so we won’t rush him.

Oxford Mail:

“It’s about making sure that we can rest our players when we need to, but we don’t want to put him at risk neither because he’ll be quite valuable to us in the period of time he’s here.

“He’ll be out at the weekend for the FA Cup, but potentially in for the EFL Trophy game on Tuesday, and then we’ll measure and gauge it when we’ve had 10 days with him.

“The main thing is to try and get him up to speed firstly, to get him to where he was because he was playing at a very good level.

“I think he’ll add some real quality to us down that left-hand side and complement the way we play.”