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Mark Sykes to switch allegiances from Northern Ireland to Republic of Ireland

He has informed the IFA of his decision.

Oxford midfielder Mark Sykes has decided to commit his international future to the Republic of Ireland according to reports.

Ian Baraclough was set to name Sykes in the Northern Ireland squad on Monday. They will face Romania and Norway next month in the Nations League.

The 23-year-old, however, informed Baraclough and the IFA of his decision and was not included in his squad.

According to The Sun, Republic of Ireland manager Stephen Kenny is a huge fan of the Oxford midfielder. He made contact with Sykes a couple of weeks ago about a potential switch to the Boys in Green.

Sykes was previously called up to the senior Northern Ireland squad under Michael O’Neill but failed to win a cap. The former Glenavon man was also a regular in Baraclough’s under-21 squad before he became senior manager.

According to the report, Kenny has long been a fan of Sykes’ from his time in the Irish League. The news of his switch of allegiances will come as a blow for Northern Ireland.

The Irish FA are understood to be “extremely disappointed” by Sykes’ decision. The Oxford man was viewed as the long-term successor to captain Steven Davis.

Oxford standout

Sykes broke into the Oxford first team in October, and helped them to the League One playoff final. He played 39 games in all competitions for Karl Robinson’s side.

The 23-year-old scored in the final but his side Oxford lost 2-1 to Wycombe at Wembley.

Stephen Kenny will name is first Republic of Ireland squad on Monday. The Boys in Green cannot select Sykes for another several months.

Sykes international transfer process will begin immediately.

Sykes earned his first Northern Ireland call-up in May 2019. He was also in the squad for games against Germany and Luxembourg that September.

He also made Michael O’Neill’s squad in March this year. The 23-year-old can play anywhere in the midfield.

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Author: Oisin McQueirns

Oisin McQueirns is a digital journalist at Pundit Arena. Massive fan of Leeds United, Ric Flair and Trusting The Process. Contact him here oisin@punditarena.com