OXFORD United’s biggest deals this summer could be hanging on to key names who are capable of playing at a higher level, according to Jamie Mackie.

The veteran, who played in the Premier League with Queens Park Rangers, believes he has teammates who have what it takes to progress.

And after a quiet start to the summer, speculation has emerged in Northern Ireland over winger Gavin Whyte.

Sky Bet Championship club Nottingham Forest are reportedly planning a £2million move for the 23-year-old, who joined from Crusaders last summer.

U’s boss Karl Robinson has received assurances from the board he does not need to sell players this summer, although any bids well above the market rate could prove tough to turn down.

Mackie knows keeping the squad’s star men will be just as important as recruiting new players.

He said: “It all depends what happens when that window shuts.

“I think a big achievement for us will be getting there and holding on to a couple of players – that would be a good start.

“Some of our best signings would be keeping our players.

“I’ve played with a hell of a lot of people in my time and some of the ones we’ve got here have got a massive chance in my opinion to go a very long way in the game.

“Hopefully people haven’t noticed yet and we get to keep them for six more months or a year and give us a good start next season.”

Whyte adapted well during his first season in English football, scoring three times in his first five appearances.

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That led to an international debut, where he scored with his first touch for Northern Ireland against Israel.

The pacy wide man also showed a threat through the middle, scoring a hat-trick against Shrewsbury Town last month to finish the club campaign with nine goals.

He is away on duty with Northern Ireland this week, where there will be two more chances to catch the eye.

But he is not the only young talent who United have given opportunities to this season.

Nico Jones played in the final three games and impressed Mackie.

He said: “You forget he’s 17. It’s amazing and he has a bright future.

“It’s all about learning and it’s up to the young lads how far they want to go.

“If they’re receptive and work hard on the training ground then they’ve got a platform, especially at a club like ours where young players get a game.”