SAM Baldock has confirmed his retirement from football.

The striker played 11 times for Oxford United after initially joining on a short-term deal in February 2022.

He bagged four goals in seven games during the 2021/22 season, and despite suffering a knee injury less than a month after his United debut, his performances saw him rewarded with a two-year contract last May.

Baldock, who grew up a U’s supporter, managed four appearances last season within a two-week spell during February.

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Discussing his decision to retire via United’s YouTube channel, Baldock said: “Injuries definitely plagued my time here and my career.

“It’s something when you put so much effort in, to try and get back fit time and time again, it eventually just wears you down.

“That’s what happened to me. At the end of the time that I was playing here, I was going on the pitch just thinking what was going to happen next.

“In my last game, I knew I was undercooked and wasn’t really ready.

“But the timing of everything around the club, the league position we were in, the pressure under the manager and just how desperate I was to be back fit and be contributing.

“Inevitably my body broke down again and I’ve just got to the stage where I can’t keep putting people through it.

“It’s not fair on my family, it’s not fair on the club, it’s not fair on the fans or the players, and it’s not fair on me, so that’s why I felt the time was right to stop playing.”

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Baldock’s next steps have seen him take on a new role at the club as a business development analyst.

The 34-year-old explained: “It’s a role that came into fruition with help from the manager. Tim [Williams, chief executive] and Grant [Ferguson, chairman] are also on board with it.

“It’s a role where I’ll be spending a couple of months at a time in each department, so looking at the commercial side of the club, moving on to the academy, then assisting with recruitment and then finally coaching alongside the manager.”

U’s head coach Liam Manning told the club website: “Sam has had a wonderful playing career but that transition to the next phase of your career can be hard for players.

“This allows him to make that move a little more smoothly and, at the same time, you want to keep someone with Sam’s experience and personality within the game.

“He has so much to offer and having him within the club will hopefully work really well for all of us.”

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