OXFORD United midfielder Mark Sykes is planning to switch his allegiance from Northern Ireland to the Republic of Ireland, the PA news agency understands.

The 23-year-old earned 11 caps at under 21 level but despite being called into three senior squads has not made his debut.

Sykes played at the age group level under Ian Baraclough, who has now succeeded Michael O'Neill as manager, but has now told the Irish Football Association (IFA) he does not wish to be selected again.

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The IFA is understood to be disappointed by the decision but will not be making a comment.

The news comes a day before Baraclough is due to name his Northern Ireland squad for his first games in charge – away to Romania and at home to Norway in the Nations League next month.

Republic boss Stephen Kenny will also name his squad for games against Bulgaria and Finland on Monday.

Sykes moved to United in January 2019 and had to be patient for his chances.

He was listed for loan this time last year, but stayed and fought for a place.

It proved a good decision and he made 39 appearances, the last of which was in the Sky Bet League One play-off final at Wembley in July.

Sykes scored his third goal of the campaign, but it could not prevent a 2-1 defeat to Wycombe Wanderers.

He suffered an ankle injury in a pre-season friendly yesterday. United have not officially commented on the knock, which is still settling down, but it is not thought to be serious.