JOEL Cooper will leave Oxford United this summer after reaching an agreement to terminate his contract.

The winger has had a difficult time since joining the U’s on a three-year deal in July 2020 and made just 12 appearances, scoring twice.

Cooper, 26, returned home to Northern Ireland for personal reasons during both seasons in England and will now move back as a free agent, having agreed to depart by mutual consent.

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United head coach Karl Robinson said: “Joel has great ability but hasn’t been able to settle here.

"We talked it through and there are things back home he needs to deal with so we agreed he can leave. He does so with our thanks and very best wishes for the future.”

Cooper joined United from Northern Irish champions Linfield in 2020, fresh from winning the Northern Ireland Football Writers’ Player of the Year award the previous season.

He received his first international call-up that August and made seven appearances in the first two months of the 2020/21 campaign.

But ongoing personal issues meant the forward struggled to settle and he returned to Northern Ireland after playing in United's Papa John's Trophy win at Walsall in November 2020.

Cooper was loaned back to Linfield for the second half of the 2020/21 campaign and helped the Irish Premiership outfit win a league and cup double.

He then returned to England for pre-season in summer 2021 and played all three Papa John's Trophy group games, scoring his only two goals against Tottenham Hotspur Under 21s in October.

But the forward found first-team opportunities limited and leaves the U's after making just six Sky Bet League One appearances, all of them as a substitute.

Cooper was loaned to Sky Bet League Two club Port Vale in January and played six times, the last coming against Colchester United on March 5.

He then returned to Northern Ireland again and has now agreed to leave the U's by mutual consent.

The winger said: “I want to thank the gaffer and the staff at Oxford and the fans for their support and hopefully their understanding.

"I was very proud to play for the club and it’s a shame it wasn’t more times, but I hopefully leave on good terms and wish the club all the best for next season.”