OXFORD United are set to loan out Joel Cooper for the rest of the season as he deals with ongoing personal issues.

The Northern Irishman has already been back home for three weeks and is not expected to return to England until next summer.

Cooper only joined the U’s from Irish League champions Linfield in July and has played seven times.

The winger’s most recent appearance came in the Papa John’s Trophy game against Walsall on November 10, which could be his last in a United shirt for the foreseeable future.

Read also: Karl Robinson full of praise for Oxford United's young defence

Head coach Karl Robinson said: “Joel’s got two issues back home at the moment and finding it very difficult to be over here.

“He’s not in a good place with that.

“He spoke to me on the phone and wants to go back to Ireland until the summer.

“The situations that have arisen won’t be an overnight thing that we’ll be able to click our fingers and make better.

“He will go on loan back there until the summer, while the situation hopefully starts to be solved.

“Hopefully he’ll be in a better place for it when he comes back.”

Cooper joined United on a three-year deal and received his first Northern Ireland call-up just one month later.

He came on as a substitute in the U’s first three Sky Bet League One games of the campaign, while he played the full 90 minutes of the Carabao Cup second round defeat to Watford in September.

But Cooper did not make a United appearance between the win over Accrington Stanley on September 26 and the defeat to Fleetwood Town on October 31.

This was partly due to another international call-up, where the U’s were frustrated to lose the forward without him playing any minutes.

But his latest absence is not football-related.

Robinson said: “These are all things that have happened since he signed and were completely out of our control.

“He knows our thoughts are with him.

“He’s a tremendous young man, very brave in the fact he’s taken the risk coming over here and not having his family here.

“His welfare is the most important thing.

“I sometimes sound like the evil dragon that’s constantly shouting fire and anger at people but there’s also a side of humility and respect for all the people that play for our football club.

“This isn’t football, it’s other things that are going on.”