Clarke hails Hodgkinson influence at Oxford United

Banbury Cake: Alan Hodgkinson (second left) with Oxford United’s goalkeepers (from left) Wayne Brown, Ryan Clarke and Max Crocombe Alan Hodgkinson (second left) with Oxford United’s goalkeepers (from left) Wayne Brown, Ryan Clarke and Max Crocombe

RYAN Clarke paid a glowing tribute to the retiring Alan Hodgkinson, describing the veteran goalkeeping coach’s advice as “priceless”.

The 76-year-old stepped down yesterday after six decades in professional football as player and then coach.

For the final seven years, the former England international had been with the U’s.

Clarke, who will now be coached by Wayne Brown, worked alongside Hodgkinson for the past three seasons and could not underestimate the contribution it had made to his career.

He said: “Hodgy’s been brilliant since I walked through the door, he took me under his wing and I learnt so much.

“He’s helped all aspects of my game and taught me so much in terms of the mental side and how to approach big games.

“It’s been priceless and I can’t thank him enough for everything, he’s been one of the biggest influences on my career.

“It’s unfortunate it’s come to an end, but it had to at some point. Things are going well with Browny and I’m enjoying working with him.”

Clarke’s attention is firmly focused on tomorrow’s visit to York City, where the U’s will look to extend their winning streak in npower League Two to four games.

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The 30-year-old is one of six United players likely to play who also beat York City 3-1 in the Conference play-off final two years ago.

He said: “I’ve always done alright at York and it’ll be a tough game.

“It’s important we keep the run going and stay right up the top.

“It’s a tough league to get out of, but they’re back in the Football League now, which is where they’ll probably feel they should be.

“The reports are that they’re a decent team who like to get the ball down and play.

“No disrespect to York but we’re not worried about anyone at the moment, home or away.”

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