OXFORD United’s trip to Morecambe has been postponed after Mark Sykes received his first Republic of Ireland call-up.

The U’s midfielder switched from Northern Ireland in August 2020 and has had to wait patiently for his chance with the Republic of Ireland.

However, an impressive campaign which has seen the former Glenavon man grab eight goals and a further six assists has led Stephen Kenny to include Sykes in his squad for home friendlies against Belgium and Lithuania.

Belgium, managed by former Everton boss Roberto Martinez, are currently ranked the world’s top international side by FIFA.

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Sykes played 11 times for Northern Ireland at under-21 level and was called up to senior squads without making his debut.

United’s No 10 was with teammate Gavin Whyte – who was named in the Northern Ireland squad on Monday – when he got the call from Kenny and said his inclusion for the Republic of Ireland vindicated his decision to switch allegiance.

“The manager called me yesterday and told me he was going to call me in the squad – Gavin was in the car with me so he was listening to the full conversation,” said Sykes.

“It’s relief more than anything and I’m just proud as well.

“My decision in the first place, the ability to back myself in a tough situation, so it’s more about proving myself right than proving everyone else wrong.”

Alongside Whyte, Ciaron Brown has been called up by Northern Ireland, while Oisin Smyth will join up with the under-21s.

Sky Bet League One clubs have the option to rearrange a fixture if they have at least three first team players away on international duty, however Smyth does not qualify as he has not made enough appearances.

United’s fixture at Morecambe will now take place on Tuesday, April 5, kick-off at 7.45pm. The game had been set for next Saturday.