GAVIN Whyte is excited by the prospect of playing in front of the biggest crowd of his career when Oxford United visit Portsmouth today.

The summer signing from Northern Ireland pushed his case to feature at Fratton Park by scoring in his first U’s start in midweek.

And fixtures like today’s on the south coast, where the crowd is likely to be well over 16,000, are exactly why he wanted to come to English football.

He said: “The biggest crowd I have played in front of is 7-8,000.

“It doesn’t faze me. That’s why we play this game – to play in front of these big crowds and I’m sure it will be a good experience.

“It will inspire me.

“I know all about them. I’ve watched them before.

“All the boys say they’re a big club with a good atmosphere. I’m just looking forward to going there and seeing it.”

Whyte’s only action in Sky Bet League One so far was as a late substitute in the 4-0 defeat at Barnsley a fortnight ago.

But with United making late calls on the fitness of Ricky Holmes (back) and James Henry (dead leg), the winger could be well be needed at some point.

The 22-year-old admits it has been a hectic start since moving from Crusaders in July, but believes he is a better player already.

He said: “It’s obviously going to be hard coming from part-time to full-time.

“My body is just getting used to it, but it’s been good. It’s what I’ve always wanted to do.

“It’s the pace and the strength of everyone else (which is different).

“I’m quick enough, but when I was back home I was quicker than all of them.

“Here I’m not, but it’s been a brilliant experience and I’m really loving it here.”

Whyte was one of several players brought into the side against Coventry City on Tuesday to impress and give boss Karl Robinson a headache.

One straightforward decision is in central midfield, where fit-again deadline day signing Jamie Hanson is expected to make his debut from the start.

Portsmouth are likely to be without Nathan Thompson, who provoked Alex Mowatt for his red card in March’s meeting between the sides, due to a knee problem, along with Dion Donohue (groin).


Portsmouth: from MacGillivray, Walkes, Whatmough, Clarke, Brown, Naylor, Lowe, Evans, Close, Curtis, Pitman, Wheeler, Rose, Chaplin, Hawkins, May, Burgess, McGee.

Oxford Utd: from Mitchell, McMahon, Nelson, Dickie, Garbutt, Brannagan, Hanson, Hall, Mackie, Browne, Smith, Obika, Whyte, Lopes, Ruffels, Norman, Mousinho, Shearer.