KARL Robinson predicts Nico Jones will benefit from his Oxford United exit.

The U’s announced this week that the 19-year-old centre back will be released when his contract expires this summer.

Jones gained rave reviews when he was thrown into United’s side at the end of the 2018/19 season, making three Sky Bet League One appearances aged just 17.

But the teenager played just five EFL Trophy games in the following two campaigns and had two short loan spells in Vanarama National League South, including one with Oxford City.

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U’s head coach Robinson revealed both parties thought a move away could help the highly-rated defender progress.

He said: “We felt he stood still for a while.

“There were a few things internally, so we feel it’s the right decision for the football club.

“He goes with warmth and what he did for us as a young player was second to none.

“It just shows you, it’s not the end of the road for him in his career.

“I think he feels going out playing men’s football and being released is better for him and we felt it was as well.

“We didn’t see him playing much next year, because of what happened this year.”

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Jones is behind Elliott Moore, Rob Atkinson, John Mousinho and Luke McNally in United’s centre back queue.

He joined from Fulham in 2018 and quickly made an impression.

The teenager was part of United’s run to the fourth round of the 2018/19 FA Youth Cup and was given his first-team debut later that season.

Jones came off the bench at Shrewsbury Town on Easter Monday 2019, playing half an hour to help the ten-man visitors win 3-2.

The youngster looked assured as he started the final two matches of the season, against Doncaster Rovers and champions Luton Town.

It was enough to earn him a two-year contract, with United deciding not to take up the option for an additional 12 months.

Jones is also thought to be the U’s youngest-ever captain, having led the U’s in the 4-1 Trophy win at Crawley Town in November 2019.

He was loaned to City last February and Havant & Waterlooville 12 months later.