THE door is open for James Henry to return at some point to Oxford United, as he looks to get into coaching once he finishes his playing career.

Henry was one of four players released by United, following their promotion to Sky Bet Championship.

Alongside Billy Bodin, Marcus Browne and Steve Seddon, midfielder Henry will be looking for a new club this summer.

The 34-year-old departs the U’s after a seven-year spell with the club. A total of 58 goals in 260 appearances ensures he leaves United with just 10 other players in front of him in the all-time U’s goalscoring charts.

Moments that United fans will remember most include the winner at Doncaster Rovers in April 2018, helping in the League One survival battle, and the hat-trick in the 3-1 win at home to Lincoln City in August 2021.

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U’s head coach Des Buckingham said: “James has had a wonderful career and done so well for this football club, whether it’s important goals to allow us to sustain where we were, or whether it’s this season, with the equaliser against Portsmouth in the last minute, to make it 2-2.

“These are contributions over not just this season, but such a long period. James is keen to continue playing firstly, but he’s got a keen eye on coaching, and the door is open for him to come back in that space.

“We’ll do what we can, but first and foremost, these are good enough players to pick up good clubs.”

The trio of Bodin, Browne and Henry all played their part in helping United earn promotion this season, while left back Seddon spent the campaign on loan at Burton Albion.

Buckingham admitted that telling Bodin, Browne and Henry they would not be offered new contracts was a challenging process, especially after the euphoria of the last few days.

“It’s one of the worst parts of the job, especially after coming off the back of such a high,” said Buckingham.

“Those players have been so important to us, to move this club forward, and when you move forward, you have to make change.

“What you can’t do is not recognise the contribution of so many people over the years, not just this season, that have moved this club forward to where it is now, and contributed heavily towards that.

“They’re not forgotten, and it’s probably the toughest part of this job, especially at this moment in time.”

United are in talks regarding new contracts for Josh Murphy, Joe Bennett and Josh McEachran, while midfield duo Marcus McGuane and Josh Johnson have had one-year options in their deals triggered.

Winger Kyle Edwards will remain with the club while he continues his rehabilitation from a hamstring injury.