OXFORD United will not offer Nile Ranger a contract in favour of exploring other targets in January.

The controversial striker had been training with the U’s since the end of last month.

But despite still being short of firepower, United have allowed the free agent to move on.

Ranger has a chequered past and has not played since Southend United terminated his contract in January for disciplinary reasons.

While Karl Robinson had been pleased with the 27-year-old, he has revealed the club have chosen to pursue other avenues.

The U’s head coach said: “Nile Ranger is not someone we want to take up the option on.

“We had a conversation and as a football club we felt it was right we looked more in January.”

Ranger’s career has been plagued by off-field trouble, including a ten-week stay in prison last year after admitting online banking fraud.

Robinson previously said supporters’ views on whether he should sign the former Newcastle United player would come into his thinking.

More than 60 per cent of 2,000 voters in an Oxford Mail poll thought the club should offer the ex-Swindon Town frontman a deal.

But Robinson stressed the decision was purely for footballing reasons.

He added: “I want people to understand that since he has been here he has been impeccably behaved in his conduct and his time-keeping.

“It’s hard because he proved to us that he was ready to be given an opportunity.

“And I do believe in giving people a chance.

“But I had a long chat with Nile last week about how he has to go away and start proving himself to people now.

“I do believe he will turn this concept around.

“He needs to stay strong in the next few months and as fit as he possibly can.

“But we just felt it wasn’t right for Oxford United to have him here in the short term.”