The busier, the better, says Northern Ireland winger Gavin Whyte as he prepares for Lithuania in this week’s crucial World Cup qualifier in Vilnius.
The 25-year-old Cardiff City man moved on loan to Oxford United at the end of last month, citing a need for more game time as a factor.
It will be a return to the Kassam Stadium for the Markets man, who left Crusaders to sign a three-year deal with Oxford in 2018.
But after a successful first season with the U’s, Championship club Cardiff swooped as manager Neil Warnock offered him a four-year deal.
But game time has been limited and Whyte joined Grant McCann’s Hull City on loan last January to help the Tigers secure promotion to the Championship.
He returned to the Cardiff City Stadium but was told by current Bluebirds boss Mick McCarthy that he wouldn’t be guaranteed regular games this season.
After weighing up his options with several clubs interested in a loan deal, Whyte opted to return to Oxford to work with Karl Robinson again.
“I haven’t been playing as much in the last two years as I would have liked,” Whyte told Sunday Life Sport. “So I wanted to play more.
“I loved my time at Oxford when I signed from Crusaders, and I enjoyed working under Karl Robinson so it was an easy decision for me.
“There were other offers but I didn’t want to move too far and I knew a lot of the lads from my first spell there.
“I spoke to a few of them and that made the move easier. I’m back living in Bicester and Mark Sykes lives just a few doors away so that helps as well.
“I just want to play games at club and international level, as many as I can. So far it has been good at Oxford. I’ve played in all the League games and we picked up seven points from 12 (before yesterday’s game against Lincoln City).
“The gaffer rotated for the League Cup games but I’ve played all 90 minutes in the League games, and I’m happy with that.
“Hopefully I can do enough when I’m away with Northern Ireland to make my way into the manager’s thinking for selection. I just want to play football.”
Whyte will want to feature in the three upcoming internationals, two World Cup qualifiers against Lithuania and Switzerland sandwiching a friendly against Estonia.
A confident and match-fit Whyte is an asset for most managers and the speedy winger insists he will only focus on the international games and let his club career sort itself out over the coming 10 months.
“I signed a one-year loan deal with Oxford and then the plan is to return to Cardiff. All I can do is keep my head down, enjoy my football and do the best I can and see where that takes me at the end of the season,” he said.
“But for now my aim is to get game time with Northern Ireland over the three games and hopefully set ourselves up for the other qualifiers before the end of the year.”
International defender Conor McLaughlin was omitted from Ian Baraclough’s squad to travel to Lithuania as he is currently recovering from injury and without a club.
The 30-year-old right-back signed for Sunderland from Millwall in 2019 but injury hampered his prospects and McLaughlin was released at the end of his contract in May.
The Belfast man suffered a back injury towards the end of last season, has spent the summer recuperating and hopes to return to full training and get himself a club in the coming weeks.