GAVIN Whyte has backed Joel Cooper to be a success if rumours linking the winger with a move to Oxford United come off.

The pair were only born a month apart, so played against each other coming through youth football in Northern Ireland.

Whyte made the switch to the U’s two years ago and was a big hit, scoring nine goals in a season where he also netted on his senior international debut.

It paved the way for a £2million move to the Sky Bet Championship with Cardiff City.

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United returned to the Irish Premiership to buy Mark Sykes 18 months ago and they are reportedly eyeing a third dip into the market.

Cooper scored 11 goals and laid on another 12 to help Linfield top the table before the season was shut down by coronavirus.

Shrewsbury Town are also believed to be interested and Whyte reckons the 24-year-old has the quality to follow in his and Sykes’ footsteps.

He told The Score radio show: “Definitely, I think loads of young players in the Irish League do.

“It’s a harder step, but Joel is a great player and there are a lot of great young players who if they get the chance and work hard they could do it as well.

“I think if that happens for Joel it would be a great move, as it was for me and Sykesy, who is flying at the minute.

“I know Joel from years and years ago, playing against him when I first signed Crusaders at under 15s or 16s.

“He was a great player.

“When he moved to Glenavon a couple of years ago he ripped it up and this season he’s been head and shoulders above everyone else.

“He does really deserve it and hopefully the move comes along for him.”