KARL Robinson has freed up space to make signings after ‘clearing the decks’ at Oxford United by opting to release five senior players.

None of the decisions came as a surprise, with the group making just 23 appearances between them this season.

Jon Obika had the lion’s share of those, despite missing most of the campaign with a cruciate knee ligament injury.

Fellow striker Jonte Smith will also depart, along with centre backs Charlie Raglan and Fiacre Kelleher, who had been out on loan with Cheltenham Town and Macclesfield Town respectively.

Scott Shearer, 38, made the decision for United, opting to retire.

It leaves 16 senior professionals contracted beyond this summer, plus half a dozen youngsters.

READ MORE: Oxford United's season - a look back

Robinson said: “We’ve cleared the decks a little bit.

“We’re very threadbare as we sit right now, but luckily we don’t play for a long time.”

Of those to depart, Smith had been at United for the shortest time.

The striker signed a short-term contract in February as a free agent, having been released by Lewes.

Smith, who is in line to play for Bermuda at this summer’s Gold Cup, had impressed on trial, but his only first-team appearance was as a stoppage-time substitute in the win at Blackpool.

Robinson said: “It was a gamble. His goal record was phenomenal and we thought we’d take a look at him.

“We were hurried by the window, it wasn’t like we could look at him over a period of time, but we didn’t feel it was a great risk to the club.

“He’s going into a big tournament in the summer and we felt there would be opportunities for him elsewhere, maybe in other countries.”

Shearer’s decision called time on a professional career which had started in the 2000/01 campaign.

“We had a conversation with him in front of the players about his 20-odd years in the professional game, which is an amazing achievement,” Robinson said.

“We’ve got a very young team and how he’s conducted himself around the building is a testament to him as a human being.

“It’s a sad day when it comes, but he went with our blessing and all the luck in the world.”

Jack Stevens will continue as the No 2 keeper after the club took up an option to extend his deal for next season.

John Mousinho is in the same boat, having triggered an appearance-related clause.

Meanwhile, Robinson confirmed they had yet to receive responses from Curtis Nelson and Rob Hall about contract offers made last week.