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Oxford United’s Shandon Baptiste turns down Grenada to keep England options open

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SHANDON Baptiste is a surprise inclusion for Oxford United against Portsmouth tonight after turning down his international call-up.

The midfielder was selected by Grenada and was due to fly out to the Caribbean this week for the double-header against French Guiana on October 10 and 13.

Baptiste’s three caps so far have come in friendlies, but the matches this week were in the Concacaf Nations League.

Also read: UPDATES – Oxford United v Portsmouth

Playing a competitive international would prevent him from playing for England in the future and with Premier League teams believed to be tracking the 21-year-old, it is an option he does not want to rule out.

Baptiste contacted the Grenada FA to indicate he wanted to turn down the call-up and they have given him permission to play tonight and against Doncaster Rovers in Sky Bet League One on Saturday.

United head coach Karl Robinson said: “It’s something Shandon really wants to think about.

“Everybody has seen he has the talent to go and play at the highest level, so he thought it was right he didn’t want to commit too soon.

Also read: Oxford United set to name strong line-up in Trophy clash

“It’s something he found very difficult to speak about on Friday night and probably had an influence on his performance because he was worrying about it.

“He loves where he was born, but he’s been in England since he was three and if that opportunity arises one day you just don’t know.

“I like the bravery in it. People may say it’s a million miles off, but why stop a boy dreaming?”

It is the second time he has turned down a call-up, having done so in September last year just after breaking into the U’s side.

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