JOEL Cooper has become Oxford United’s first signing of the summer.

The winger joins the U’s from Irish League champions Linfield on a three-year deal for an undisclosed fee.

Cooper, 24, is expecting life in Sky Bet League One to be a step up, but believes United can help him reach the next level.

He said: “It’s massive for my career.

“I’ve won the league twice in Northern Ireland and have always wanted to push on and better myself personally.

“Oxford is a great club and I wouldn’t have turned it down for anything.

“It’s an ambitious club and wants to progress, which is what I want to see.”

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The Northern Irishman follows in the footsteps of countrymen Gavin Whyte and Mark Sykes, who joined the U’s in summer 2018 and January 2019 respectively.

The former secured a move to Championship side Cardiff City after an impressive debut campaign in England, while Sykes has shown steady improvement this season.

Both players have also earned call-ups to the senior international side, which Cooper trained with before Euro 2016.

United’s new recruit will reunite with Sykes after the pair played together at Glenavon between 2015 and 2018.

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And Cooper revealed that watching his old teammate’s progress meant the U’s were an easy sell.

“He (Sykes) has done well for himself over here and hit the ground running,” he said.

“The Irish lads that have come across previously have been well looked after.

“It wasn’t a hard decision for me.”