A FOOTBALLER has been retained by his club despite being given a suspended sentence after he was caught storing cocaine for a dealer.

Banbury United striker Henry Landers was given a 14-month suspended sentence at Oxford Crown Court earlier this month after he admitted storing 2.6g of the white powder in his bedroom.

The drugs were found in the bedroom at Landers’ grandmother’s home, where the semi-professional sportsman was staying, during a police search last May.

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Now, his club has confirmed it will retain the striker following the trial.

The board of directors at the club said in a statement: “The board acknowledges that Henry committed a serious criminal offence in May 2020, prior to joining the club.

“A decision on his future could have been taken out of our hands had he been committed to serve a custodial sentence.

“However, the crown court recorder agreed that in sentencing him to 14 months’ imprisonment, suspended for two years, she was prepared to take an ‘exceptional course’.

“As a club, we feel we are best placed to assist Henry take that path.

“The club suspended Henry for 14 days to review the case. During this time we have taken further clarification on the legal aspects of the case and Henry’s potential rehabilitation programme.

“We have met with Henry on two occasions and also discussed this with our major stakeholders and noted views of others, including our members.

“Our investigations and feedback lead us to conclude that we can play a positive role in Henry’s future and help him ensure that this case will not be repeated.

“We believe that our highly professional staff and playing squad, and the club as a whole, can be a positive influence on Henry to help him develop as a player and a person.

“However ultimately this is down to Henry. He must be fully committed to the rehabilitation programme assigned to him.

“Drug misuse and dependency can lead to a range of harms for users and we have made it absolutely clear to Henry that any repetition of this behaviour, however slight, will result in his dismissal.

“We hope people will recognise the positive intent in our decision for Henry to remain with us.”

Subject to FA ratification, the former Oxford City and North Leigh player will be able to feature on Saturday.

The 21-year-old thanked the board for his ‘second chance’, saying: “I know this has caused negative publicity to the club and for that, I’m truly very sorry.

“I’m fully committed to the rehabilitation programme that I’ve been given and I will not let people down.

“I can assure everyone connected to Banbury United and who’s supported me in my football career, that I’m very grateful to be given this second chance, and that I’ll work and train harder than ever to do the best for our club, and to become the best footballer and ambassador I can be for our sport.”