JOE Bennett has signed a new deal to extend his stay at Oxford United.

The 34-year-old left back’s current contract expires this summer, but he has agreed fresh terms which will keep him at the club for a further year.

Bennett initially joined the U’s at the end of November, signing a short-term deal through to the end of January. He then agreed a contract through until the end of the 2023/24 campaign.

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Bennett was brought to United in order to help minimise the impact of losing fellow left back Greg Leigh to injury, after the Jamaica international picked up a calf problem while representing his country.

He went on to make 22 appearances for the U’s, 16 of which were during the regular league season, and he ended the campaign as first choice left back.

Bennett started in the 2-1 win at Exeter City on the final day of the season, and then in both legs of the Sky Bet League One play-off semi-final against Peterborough United, plus the Wembley play-off final victory over Bolton Wanderers.

He told the club website: “I am absolutely delighted to remain at Oxford United for this Championship season.

“I have loved every minute of being at the club since arriving in November and I can’t wait to experience this level of football once again, doing so in this exciting period for the club.

“I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity Oxford United gave me back in November and I want to continue to give my maximum to ensure more success in this new campaign.”

United head coach Des Buckingham added: “Joe has been a real influential figure in the team since arriving at the club in November.

“His experience and quality were vital to our push for promotion, and we are all thrilled to have Joe remain at the club for the next season.

“Joe offers this team so much on and off the park, and we look forward to working with him again in what is going to be a really exciting campaign for all at Oxford United.”

Head of recruitment Ed Waldron said: “Joe is an extremely talented and experienced player who quickly established himself as a key player for us last season.

“We were quick to extend Joe’s contract with us last season and we’re delighted to have Joe with us for another year.

“It’s vital we complement the exciting young group we want to build with some proven Championship experience and Joe brings that in abundance.”

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

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

Bennett then joined Cardiff City, playing 177 times for the Bluebirds, before signing for Wigan Athletic in August 2021, spending two years at the DW Stadium.

He joins midfielder Josh McEachran in signing a fresh deal at United, with winger Josh Murphy now the final out of contract player that the U’s opened talks with.

Meanwhile, United quartet Billy Bodin, Marcus Browne, James Henry and Steve Seddon were released and will leave the club this summer.

Midfield duo Marcus McGuane and Josh Johnson had one-year options in their deals triggered, while winger Kyle Edwards will remain with the club while he continues his rehabilitation from a hamstring injury.