NICO Jones admitted his professional debut was such a blur he completely forgot Oxford United had ten men.

The highly-rated centre back showed exactly why the U’s are aiming to tie him down to a contract with a composed display at Shrewsbury Town.

An injury to Rob Dickie after 57 minutes opened the door for Jones, who as a 17-year-old is too young to have the club’s Singha Beer logo on his shirt.

He looked the part straight away and even contributed an assist as United hit back to win 3-2.

They did it despite Ahmed Kashi’s red card, although Jones was so focused that he was oblivious to the numerical disadvantage.

“I just felt because we were winning we were going to play defensively,” he said.

“It didn’t cross my mind we had ten men.

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“It was hard. After my first sprint it was like I couldn’t breathe.

“It’s a massive difference from youth team to first team, physically and mentally.

“You have to think about so many things at once.

“The speed as well, after your first touch the striker is on you, so you have to have what you’re going to do in your head before you even touch the ball.”

The defender’s assured performance will have caught the eye, but United have already offered him a first professional contract.

Karl Robinson is optimistic Jones will follow in the footsteps of fellow first year scholars Fabio Lopes, Slavi Spasov and Michael Elechi by signing on.

“We’ve spoken, so it’s a case of crossing the t’s and dotting the i’s,” United’s head coach said.

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“We have to reach for the stars with him, because he came on at 17 and looked like a Rolls-Royce.”

While his teammates began three days off, Jones was back at the training ground yesterday morning for a session with the under 18s.

He was happy to leave the negotiations with his agent, but it is clear United’s groundwork 12 months ago meant a great deal.

They were tracking the left-sided centre back before Fulham surprisingly decided against offering a two-year scholarship.

It meant they could move quickly to secure a deal, which ensured Jones felt wanted.

He said: “Before I even signed Dan Harris (head of United’s academy) was telling me how he had watched me already. It made me feel a lot better.”