ARMANI Little and Niall Clayton have been told they will not be offered new contracts at Oxford United.

The pair are the latest players in the club's under 18 and under 23 squads to find out they are being released in the summer.

Dan Harris, head of United's academy, put the decisions down to "financial challenges" and making room for a larger than usual crop of under 18s expected to stay in the system for next season.

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Little, who signed last summer to form part of the inaugural under 23 set-up, made two senior appearances for the U's.

The 22-year-old has spent much of the season on loan at Woking, where he has helped them push for promotion in Vanarama National League South.

Clayton graduated from the youth team last summer and had a stint on loan at Thame United, before earning a call-up to a training camp with Wales under 21s last month.

Harris told the club's website: "It is no secret that there have been some internal financial challenges this season across the club and every department, academy included, is going to have to adapt to this new landscape for next season.

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"Those fans who have followed these updates all year will know that we have a very talented young crop of under 18s who, if we manage them carefully over the coming months, have the potential to reach a very high ceiling.

"In order to create space for these players to develop further, we have made the decision to run with a smaller group of under 23 players for next season.

"By the end of this year as many as nine of our scholars will have been offered early pro contracts, which is an unprecedented number.

"The challenge with doing this is that we need to not only ensure that these lads have a pathway to play and train regularly with the first team group, but also to continue helping them develop as players and young men within the academy programme."