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Joel Cooper set for chance to shine as League One duo chase Linfield winger



In demand: Joel Cooper

In demand: Joel Cooper

In demand: Joel Cooper

Linfield winger Joel Cooper has become a target for English League One clubs Oxford United and Shrewsbury Town.

The 24-year-old has had a starring role for David Healy's side since joining from Glenavon two years ago, helping the Blues to league title glory last season and to the top of the table this term before football in Northern Ireland was brought to a halt in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Cooper, who has one year left on his contract, has netted 11 goals and delivered 13 assists in 33 appearances this term and has been one of the best players in the Irish Premiership.

Sources close to the player say they are not surprised he has attracted attention from across the water though they added he is content at Linfield and for as long as he is at Windsor Park will continue to give his all.

Oxford are no strangers to signing talented Irish League players who have gone on to be a big success. In recent seasons they have snapped up Gavin Whyte from Crusaders and Mark Sykes from Glenavon.

Northern Ireland winger Whyte became a massive favourite with the fans at Oxford before moving to Championship team Cardiff while Sykes has established himself as a key figure for Karl Robinson's promotion chasing squad.

Four years ago then Northern Ireland boss Michael O'Neill called Cooper and Paul Smyth into his Euro 2016 training camp to offer both experience. Smyth later left Linfield for QPR and is now a senior international.

Cooper said: "It shows it can happen. It can be frustrating that I didn't do the same but then again I'm playing at the biggest club in the country, have won a league title and I'm enjoying it.

"I would like to push on (across the water) but if it doesn't come I want to have a good career here and be happy."

It is understood Blues boss Healy would not stand in Cooper's way if a deal was struck which suited all parties.

Belfast Telegraph