Whyte­can’twait­to­take up­newOx­ford­chal­lenge

Belfast Telegraph - - SPORT - BY GRA­HAM LUNEY

CRU­SADERS winger Gavin Whyte has the cross-chan­nel move he craved af­ter agree­ing to join League One side Ox­ford United.

The North­ern Ire­land in­ter­na­tional joins United for an undis­closed fee on a three-year-deal.

Leeds United, Don­caster Rovers and Craw­ley Town were heav­ily linked with the 22-year-old but Cru­saders were able to fi­nalise a deal with Ox­ford.

Whyte ad­mit­ted his de­par­ture from Seaview will be an emo­tional one but he has to seize the op­por­tu­nity to fur­ther his ca­reer and be­come a bet­ter player.

“I’m ex­cited about it all, it’s a fan­tas­tic op­por­tu­nity for me but it’s also emo­tional to leave the Crues where I had some bril­liant times.

“Hope­fully I can be­come an even bet­ter player and re­ally en­joy my time there.

“I wanted to make sure it was the right move for me and as soon as I found out Ox­ford were in­ter­ested, I knew this was where I wanted to come.

“I have heard a lot of good things about both the man­ager and the club and now I am de­ter­mined to work hard, keep pro­gress­ing and be part of a re­ally suc­cess­ful sea­son.”

United boss Karl Robin­son was de­lighted to snap up the winger who won all the Player of the Year gongs last sea­son.

“He is quick, skil­ful and has an eye for goal and we knew that so many other clubs were look­ing at him, in­clud­ing those in higher leagues,” he said.

“It says a lot about Ox­ford United and the rep­u­ta­tion we have, that Gavin wanted to come here to play his foot­ball.

“Gavin will add real pace out wide but can also play more cen­trally, and we look for­ward to work­ing with him. The play­ers have been great in pre-sea­son so far and we are in good shape, but we will con­tinue to work just as hard as al­ways to add to that and to keep strength­en­ing in all ar­eas.”

The club will wait for in­ter­na­tional clear­ance be­fore Whyte is in­volved in matches, mak­ing it highly un­likely that he will be in­volved in the friendlies at Ox­ford City and Hamp­ton & Rich­mond to­day.

Cru­saders stated: “Gavin has been an in­te­gral part of Cru­sad- ers FC’s re­cent ti­tle win­ning suc­cesses since his in­tro­duc­tion to the se­nior squad.

“Gavin shares our DNA at Cru­saders and ev­ery­one at the club wishes Gavin all the very best on his move to full time foot­ball and the club will sup­port Gavin with his tran­si­tion.

“He will be sorely missed, not only for his foot­ball skills and tal­ent, but also the ca­ma­raderie and fel­low­ship.

“We also wish to record our thanks to Ox­ford United Foot­ball club for their pro­fes­sional ap­proach to the ne­go­ti­a­tions.”

Mean­while, North­ern Ire­land Un­der-21 mid­fielder Char­lie Owens has signed a one-year con­tract ex­ten­sion with Queens Park Rangers.

Owens joined the Cham­pi­onship side from fel­low Lon­don out­fit Tot­ten­ham Hot­spur fol­low­ing a suc­cess­ful trial pe­riod to­wards the end of the 2016-17 sea­son.

That one-year deal has now been ex­tended for a fur­ther year — un­til the sum­mer of 2019 — af­ter the U21 in­ter­na­tional im­pressed for QPR’s U23s last sea­son, play­ing a deep-ly­ing mid­field role and fea­tur­ing 19 times.

Along with se­nior North­ern Ire­land in­ter­na­tion­als Conor Wash­ing­ton and Paul Smyth, Owens was part of the se­nior squad which trav­elled to Por­tu­gal for QPR’s re­cent pre-sea­son train­ing camp.

I’m off: Gavin Whyte with Sean Ward (main) and in new kit (inset)

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