MICHAEL O’Neill has given a robust response to Karl Robinson’s criticism of Northern Ireland over Gavin Whyte’s availability.

The Oxford United boss was unhappy to be without the winger for tomorrow’s crunch Sky Bet League One clash with Plymouth Argyle.

A request had been made to bring Whyte back, with Robinson frustrated to see Kyle Lafferty withdraw from the squad – although it later emerged the Rangers forward had an injury.

O’Neill, who is preparing for a UEFA Nations League game in Austria tomorrow night and Bosnia-Herzegovina on Monday, hit back.

He said: “Gavin Whyte is a player that is in my thoughts to start both of these games. That is why we picked him in the squad.

“It is an unfortunate thing for League One managers that their games are not all called off. That is out of my control.

“But I guarantee you if a club comes in for Gavin Whyte, the first thing Oxford United will say is that he is an international player.

“To be an international player you have to turn up and you have to play.

“Gavin is delighted to be here so I think Karl should maybe think before he speaks.”

Whyte has been a big hit at United since signing from Crusaders in the summer and scored on his senior debut against Israel last month.

Robinson said he had been unable to get hold of O’Neill, but had sent a text to the national boss, with whom he did his UEFA Pro Licence course.

The U’s head coach said: “I asked if he could come back.

“I feel low with that, because if we hadn’t signed Gavin Whyte, he wouldn’t have been there.

“It’s not like we’ve got a top international player who has been there year-in, year-out and earned their stripes playing somewhere else.

“He would’ve been playing for the under 21s probably, but we’d have probably got special dispensation for that with where we are right now.

“They will say they’ve got a job to do, but we’ve got jobs to keep, players have families to feed.

“I’m gutted, it’s a big one to take. It’s frustrating for everybody.”

Meanwhile, Tsun Dai has not gone away with Hong Kong.

The 19-year-old was in a 33-man preliminary squad for fixtures against Thailand and Indonesia.

But he missed out when the group was cut to 23 players, having only just recovered from a knee injury.