The Football League Paper - - NEWS - By Joshua Richards

IN A sea­son where very lit­tle has gone wrong for Ox­ford United, head coach Michael Ap­ple­ton ad­mits the re­call of de­fender Ge­orge Bal­dock by MK Dons is a gen­uine blow to his John­stone’s Paint Tro­phy plans.

Ox­ford host League One Mill­wall in the se­cond leg of the south­ern area fi­nal on Tues­day night hold­ing a handy 2-0 lead. Ke­mar Roofe’s dou­ble at the Den a fort­night ago put them in con­trol of the tie.

But they will be with­out full-back Bal­dock, who has been re­called early by Dons from his sea­son-long loan fol­low­ing a string of im­pres­sive per­for­mances, much to Ap­ple­ton’s frus­tra­tion.

“It is un­for­tu­nate from our point of view,” he said. “Ge­orge has been mag­nif­i­cent for us.

“I’m frus­trated, but the re­al­ity is noth­ing sur­prises me in foot­ball th­ese days and I just want the best for Ge­orge and the best for Ox­ford United.

“Dar­ryl [chair­man Dar­ryl Eales] spoke to MK Dons a cou­ple of weeks ago and said we would like to sign him per­ma­nently if it were pos­si­ble, but it was not an op­tion. They did not en­ter­tain it.”

Bal­dock first joined the U’s on loan last Jan­uary be­fore sign­ing a sea­son-long deal in June. He has made 34 ap­pear­ances this term.

Af­ter help­ing Ox­ford to the JPT area fi­nal, as well as an FA Cup gi­ant-killing over Swansea and a strong run in League Two, Ap­ple­ton can see the fans’ dis­ap­point­ment at Bal­dock’s de­par­ture.

“I com­pletely un­der­stand their frus­tra­tions with it, but the re­al­ity is he is not our player,” said Ap­ple­ton.

“If he does go back to MK Dons and plays as a reg­u­lar in the Cham­pi­onship then I think my­self, the staff and hope­fully all the fans will prob­a­bly take a lit­tle bit of pride in the fact that when play­ers come here they leave as bet­ter play­ers.”

GONE: Ge­orge Bal­dock

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