FABIO Lopes has been tipped to be a Premier League player of the future after making his Oxford United debut aged 16.

The forward came on as a substitute in Tuesday’s 2-0 Carabao Cup victory over Coventry City.

In doing so he became the club’s third youngest player to make his debut, behind Jason Seacole and Graham Atkinson, since Headington United turned professional in 1949.

Lopes, who only joined the U’s as a scholar in April, caught the eye in pre-season.

Boss Karl Robinson has a reputation for nurturing young talent, bringing through Dele Alli when he was in charge at Milton Keynes Dons.

The England star was also 16 when he made his senior bow and Robinson is well aware Lopes’s progress will draw comparisons.

“I know that, but it’s not just Del,” he said.

“There’s George Baldock we worked with, people like Pat Bamford, Lewis Baker, Ademola Lookman.

“There are six or seven players I’ve worked with in League One who have gone on to the Premier League. Fabio will go to the top.”

Lopes was born in Portugal and played in Sporting Lisbon’s youth sides before moving to Bicester in 2015.

He started out with Brackley Town, but signed scholarship forms with United at the end of last season.

The whirlwind really began last month, though, when he came on as a substitute in a pre-season friendly at Court Place Farm.

He said: “We had a game at Oxford City and that’s when things started happening.

“It hasn’t stopped since.

“I told Leon (Blackmore-Such, U’s academy coach) before pre-season finished ‘I’m going to be in the first team before I’m 17’. I have worked hard for it and that’s where I am now.”

Unfortunately, both Lopes’s parents were working on Tuesday, so missed his big moment.

It may not be long before they get another chance to see him in action, but the teenager credits his family for the role they have played in getting him this far.

He said: “If I want to go out my mum sets a certain time I have to come home so the next day I’m good for football.

“She makes sure I’m professional.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen – on Saturday I don’t know if I’ll be with the youth team or the first team. It’s up to the coaches, I trust them with everything.”

Playing a 16-year-old is always going to attract attention – and there were rumours of Premier League scouts attending United’s pre-season games to run the rule over Lopes.

But Robinson said: “I don’t want anyone getting too carried away.

“I’ve worked with many players from a young age who have gone on to have great careers and they’ve been guided in the right way.

“It’s not about money or instant fame, it’s about doing it in the right manner and I’m sure we will do that.”