The player was loan to the League One playoff hopefuls in the first half of the season, however he’s struggled for game time since March 2018 due to injuries and falling out of favour at the Championship club.
— Oxford United FC (@OUFCOfficial) January 22, 2020
He dislocated his shoulder after 23 minutes into his first start for the U’s in their 4-0 Carabao Cup win over West Ham in September.
Now Thorne is ready for action again and agreed to return to Oxford, but play for free until the end of the season after agreeing a settlement on the rest of his Derby contract.
Thorne told Sky Sports News: “It was key for me to start enjoying football again. The last few years, because I haven’t been playing football and other things were going on, I wasn’t enjoying going into work at Derby and enjoying myself. I was going in and training with the kids.
“The most difficult thing is not being injured and still not being able to play. The biggest thing for me was to come somewhere with someone I trust, someone that trusts me, would allow me the opportunity to prove my ability and my fitness.”
According to Sky Sports, Oxford boss Karl Robinson shares the same agent as the midfielder and the pair had bumped into each other several times over the years while on holiday. So it was a no brainer to bring him in to the club.
Robinson said: “He at one stage was one of the best players in the Championship. He was running games on his own, his weight of pass, his vision.
“He’s one of the nicest young men you’ll ever meet and he’s been through so much. I remember speaking to him when he did his shoulder and he was almost in tears, the conversation we had he said ‘gaffer I’ve had enough, I can’t mentally deal with this any more, my body can’t deal with it’, it was a very difficult conversation for us to have.
“He’s just an unbelievable character and by the way – he’s an exceptional footballer and we’re very very lucky to have him.”
“I want to just find the love for it again, get myself playing, I’m a free agent in the summer and I’ve only just turned 27 so I still see myself having another good six or seven years (of playing).”
George Thorne has left Derby County to join @OUFCOfficial.
Good luck for the future, George! ?
— Derby County (@dcfcofficial) January 22, 2020
With nine games in February alone, Thorne is likely to get his wish in the coming months at Oxford.
Derby’s head coach Steve McClaren described him as a “young player with great potential”, and the 27 year old captained the side in the year they got to Wembley Stadium in the Championship playoff final in 2014, which they were beaten by QPR.
The season after that, Thorne suffered the first of two serious knee injuries,, he struggled to get back into the team during Frank Lampard and Philip Cocu’s regimes, and a loan spell at Luton last season saw him make just three substitute appearances.
You can watch the full interview for your by clicking HERE.
After finding out that ex-Derby midfielder George Thorne has joined and plays for free at Oxford United, fans gave their reaction on social media…
So George Thorne is playing for free to get his career back on track.
Never heard of a player playing for free.
What a top footballer
— Father & Son On Tour. (@FATHERnSONDCFC) February 11, 2020
George Thorne played for free at Oxford. So much potential and plagued by injury.
— Andy Buckley-Taylor (@BuckTaylor64) February 11, 2020
If he can stay injury free he’s an absolute baller
— Derby Lad (@derby_lad) January 22, 2020
Get him fit for five minutes and it’s a great signing
— Hamish (@hraarmstrong) January 22, 2020
If he hadn't had his injuries he would be a Premier League player IMO. Good luck to him and hope he can stay fit. Good luck George and Oxford
— Ramraid_Against_The_Machine (@mark_orlow) January 22, 2020
Fantastic talent, hope he can stay fit
— Stuart Forsyth (@sjforsyth) January 22, 2020
If he stays fit and can get back to the levels we saw when on loan at us you’ll have a premier league player. Gutted he’s gone
— shaun woodward (@woodwardio79) January 22, 2020
Could have been a top player, one of the best we’ve had in 10 years on his day but sadly his body couldn’t keep up with his potential
— Deano (@Deanogarratt) January 22, 2020
Wish him all the best, a frustrating career for him so far.
— Chris Lawn (@cLawn92) January 22, 2020
— Jack Beighton (@JackBeighton) January 22, 2020
I guarantee he will get fit this season and next season he’ll be Player of the season next year
— •Kyle• (@KyleDCFC7) January 22, 2020
What a player – gutted we never saw the best of him again after signing permanent – Sorry to see him go but hopefully he can get his career back on trot. At his best easily good enough to grace the premiership.
— Simon Marriott (@SimonJMarriott) January 22, 2020
— Phillip Cocu’s Tyler??? (@South12Stander) January 22, 2020
Good luck lad! Ridiculously bad luck here hope he can get his career back on track
— Derby Lad (@derby_lad) January 22, 2020
What could have been….. don’t take the piss he was quality when fit , had two horrendous injuries that basically ruined his career , be thankful you saw him in a white shirt even if it wasn’t regular, good luck George
— simon mark lowe (@simonmark1) January 22, 2020