Oxford United sign playmaker Mark Sykes from Glenavon for an undisclosed fee

Fri, Jan 04 2019

Credit: Oxford United FC

Oxford United have completed the signing of Northern Ireland under-21 international Mark Sykes from Glenavon for an undisclosed fee.

The creative midfielder has signed a two-and-a-half-year deal with the English League One side, where he will join his former under-21 teammate Gavin Whyte in the engine room.

The pair grew up together in Belfast and represented Northern Ireland through schools and underage sides before the ex-Crusaders winger made his senior bow in 2018.

Like Whyte, Sykes broke through in the Irish League as a teenager, making his senior debut in 2014 as a 16-year-old, before signing his first pro deal in the summer of 2015.

The 21-year-old quickly marked himself out as one to watch for the Lurgan Blues and amassed a showreel of spectacular goals.

“Obviously it is a step up to full-time football but I have played over 140 games in competitive men’s football and have learned so much in that time,” Sykes told the club’s official website.

“I was really impressed by the manager at Oxford, by the plans the club have and I can’t wait to get started.”

Oxford manager Karl Robinson: “He has a terrific goalscoring record for a midfielder and we knew there was a lot of competition to sign him.

“I think the Oxford fans are going to like watching him. He plays with a lot of freedom, makes things happen and I think is a really good player.

“I spoke to him and told him what a great club this is and if that played a part in his decision then great because I know he will be a great signing for us.”

Glenavon manager Gary Hamilton said: “Mark deserves his chance. He’s been a great servant to this football club.

“He’s been a tremendous player in the Irish League. He’s entertained everyone that’s watched him, not just our fans.

“He’s someone that I feel has the potential, if he keeps his head down and works hard and listens to the coaches over there as well, he’s only going to get better with full-time training.”