Oxford United winger Joel Cooper has been called up for the Northern Ireland squad for their forthcoming UEFA Nations League matches against Romania and Norway on 4th and 7th August.
Joel has been in impressive form in pre-season and has settled quickly with the U’s but will now miss the chance to make his debut against AFC Wimbledon on 5th September while he links up with the Northern Ireland squad.
Meanwhile midfielder Mark Sykes has notified the IFA that he will no longer be available for selection.
Mark has made great progress since joining the U's last summer and was notified last week of his selection for the same Northern Ireland squad as Joel.
However, he told us:
“It was a really difficult decision. I genuinely wish Northern Ireland all the best and know they will do well under their new Manager, who I have worked with before and really like.
“The last few weeks have given me time to think about things and I have to do what my heart says.
“The Republic of Ireland are the team I have always dreamed of playing for and I have to try my best to achieve that. I am proud to have been involved with the Northern Ireland team, and have always given it my all, but I had to make a choice and it had to be now.”
Head Coach Karl Robinson told us
“It’s great for Joel and he has really impressed us so far. I spoke with Mark and know how tough his decision was. He has not taken it lightly and he has been agonising over what to do but ultimately he needed to make a choice and as a club we respect his decision. He is still a young man, he has a great future ahead of him and he has been very honest over this so all we can do is back him and help him continue to progress as a player.”