CONSIDERING Gavin Whyte’s rapid rise this season, it is unsurprising the winger needed time this week to catch his breath.

The 22-year-old has been a full-time professional for less than five months – and has been busy making strides ever since.

With one eye on his packed schedule so far and another on the festive fixture list, Oxford United boss Karl Robinson gave Whyte four days off.

The winger returned to training yesterday, having spent a rejuvenating break back home with family and friends in Northern Ireland.

Whyte said: “The gaffer came up to me after the Plymouth game last weekend and said you can go home tomorrow and get four days’ rest.

“I think I needed it because it’s been flat out with the training and the number of games. The batteries are recharged.”

It was a trip originally scheduled for a fortnight earlier, but United’s Emirates FA Cup replay at Forest Green Rovers forced a postponement.

The break saw Whyte catch up on his teammates had been given earlier in the season, while he was away with Northern Ireland.

His international commitments have helped the rising star reach 25 appearances for the campaign, which came as a surprise.

“Have I already?,” he said.

“I want to play as many games as I can – that’s why I came to England and hopefully there’s many more.”

The trip home was especially precious, as it gave Whyte quality time with his daughter.

Leaving Lily, who will be brought over next week to coincide with her third birthday, has been the toughest part of the transfer across the Irish Sea.

Such off-field sacrifices can be easily forgotten when footballers’ form is being analysed, but Whyte shrugs it off as part of the job.

He said: “It was nice to see the family and especially my daughter.

“I’ve never been away from home before, so especially not taking the wee one over with me it’s been hard.

“When she was born it was a really testing time, she was only 1lb 8oz because she was 12 weeks premature.

“It was a really tough four months in hospital, so to leave was hard, but I’m doing it to give her a better life.”

It should mean Whyte returns to action at Peterborough United tomorrow refreshed mentally as well as physically.

Such flexibility should also buy plenty of goodwill when it comes to his relationship with Robinson, although the summer signing had no complaints already.

He said: “I think me and him are quite close already.

“When he brought me in he told me what was expected from me.

“I think I’ve given him that and it’s all about me just continuing to do so.

“Hopefully he continues to play me.”