Oxford United manager comments pave way for Bristol City to sign utility man

The Championship season’s been over for less than a week but City aren’t standing still

Oxford United manager Karl Robinson’s comments earlier this month have paved the way for Mark Sykes’ move to Bristol City.

First-team boss Nigel Pearson was a spectator at the Kassam Stadium along with his assistant Curtis Fleming for their match with MK Dons to scout out possible targets.

Now one of those players could be close to a move to Ashton Gate, as plans are already underway on assembling a squad for next season.

Exclusively reported by BristolWorld yesterday, it was revealed that City were in discussions with the player about potentially joining the Robins.

The 24-year-old is out of contract at the end of the summer and is free to talk to clubs as he plans for his next move.

Sykes’ current club Oxford United are consigned to losing the player following the near end of his current deal.

Already experienced forward Sam Winnall, Jamie Hanson, Leon Chambers-Parillon and Michael Elechi have been told they can leave the club.

They have yet to release their retained list which has a deadline of May 21, so they could still make a deal to the player.

However Sykes was not included in the final match day squad of the campaign, with manager Karl Robinson opting to include players that will be at the club for the 2022/23 season.

“Sykesy’s contract is up, he’ll obviously move on as well,” said Robinson to the Oxford Mail following the conclusion of the League One campaign.

In a year where he accumulated 45 appearances, he scored eight times and claimed five assists, though his goals dried up on New Year’s Day.

He was subject of an interest from Wigan Athletic on deadline day in January, as well whilst there was also interest from Premier League hopefuls Huddersfield Town.

Sykes can either play as a wing-back or a right-sided winger, which would be of a benefit given midfielder Alex Scott played there towards the end of the season.

George Tanner was signed to fill in the role but had his game time limited after struggling with injuries.

The Northern Ireland Under-21 international had been with Oxford for the last four seasons after beginning his career with Glenavon in the NIFL Premiership where he won the Irish Cup, getting the chance to play in the qualifying rounds of the Europa League.

Should Sykes depart Oxford, he would leave the club having made 136 appearances, assisting 21 times and scoring 11 goals.