OXFORD United fans are going to enjoy watching Joel Cooper, according to Jim Magilton.

The former U’s midfielder is in a great position to judge, having handed the winger his Northern Ireland Under 21 debut in 2015.

He has kept a close eye on the wide man ever since, so was delighted to see one of his former clubs bring him to England last week.

The biggest surprise for Magilton is why no one had come in before now to give the Linfield attacker a chance in full-time football.

“I was amazed it took so long for someone to take Joel, because he’s a very good player,” he said.

“I should have thrown Joel in (for the under 21s) long before I did. I’ve always been a big fan.

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“You are going to enjoy watching him play because he excites you. He’s a match-winner.”

Magilton spent four years with the U’s from 1990, in sides which had high-quality wide men in Chris Allen and Joey Beauchamp.

And Cooper’s style does remind the former Ipswich Town boss of a former teammate.

He said: “Joel’s not as quick as Chrissy was, but he can move the ball like Joey.

“He’s a throwback to an old-time wide man, he goes past players and you don’t get many people like that who will commit defenders.

“There’s quality, he’s got a fantastic left peg, has great delivery and can score.

“He’s aggressive with it as well.”

As elite performance director at the Irish FA, Magilton has a role in helping to bring through the country’s top talents.

When it came to making a move, there was no surprise in Northern Ireland it was Oxford United who came out on top.

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In the last two years they have had success taking Gavin Whyte and Mark Sykes from the Irish League, with both of them going on to earn call-ups for the senior national side.

Magilton said: “Credit to Oxford for taking the plunge.

“It takes courage to take players, because you are looking at them at one level and you are pitching them at another level.

“Anyone that spoke to me about those three I’d have said they were no-brainers, because I had seen them develop.

“My programme is about developing young players, but they play hundreds of games at a really good level.

“They’re at a stage where they are ready to kick on, so you are getting mature players who are used to winning.

“I think Joel will do very well, 100 per cent he’s as good as the other two.

“You just hope he settles in, but it’s a good time to take him at the start of pre-season.”