Belfast Telegraph

Oxford boss hits out over Gavin Whyte's Northern Ireland call-up

Gavin Whyte celebrates his debut goal for Northern Ireland.
Gavin Whyte celebrates his debut goal for Northern Ireland.
Gareth Hanna

By Gareth Hanna

Oxford United manager Karl Robinson has hit out after losing Gavin Whyte to international duty.

The U's are currently rooted to the foot of League One with just six points from 12 league matches and, with second bottom Plymouth Argyle visiting on Saturday afternoon, could do without one of their key players jetting off.


Whyte only joined from Crusaders in the summer but, with three goals for the club already, he's tied with Ricky Holmes as their top scorer.

Robinson, who completed his UEFA Pro License course alongside Northern Ireland boss Michael O'Neill, is reported to have texted the NI manager in the lead-up to Northern Ireland's UEFA Nations League double-header against Austria and Bosnia & Herzegovinia.

"I asked if (Gavin) could come back," Robinson said, also highlighting Oxford's role in Whyte's goal-scoring NI debut last month.

"I feel low with that, because if we hadn’t signed Gavin Whyte, he wouldn’t have been there.

"It’s not like we’ve got a top international player who has been there year-in, year-out and earned their stripes playing somewhere else.

"He would have been playing for the under 21s probably, but we would have probably got special dispensation for that with where we are right now.

"They will say they’ve got a job to do, but we’ve got jobs to keep, players have families to feed.

"I’m gutted, it’s a big one to take. It’s frustrating for everybody."

The League One manager also questioned how big a role Whyte would play in a full-strength Northern Ireland set-up.

"If they had a fully-fit squad, Gavin Whyte would not be playing," he said.

"We haven’t got a fully-fit squad and we’re losing one of our best performers over recent weeks and one of our leading scorers.

"How is that fair on fans, players and staff?"

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