OXFORD United teenager Nico Jones has been tipped to play at the highest level after signing his first professional contract.

The highly-rated 17-year-old completed a deal yesterday which will keep him at the Sky Bet League One club until 2021.

Boss Karl Robinson, who handed Jones his senior debut against Shrewsbury Town last season, believes the defender has all the attributes of a top-flight footballer.

But he stressed the importance of both the player and the club, who have a 12-month extension option, doing everything correctly to help his development.

“He will go right to the top if he wants it,” said Robinson.

“But it’s ok me saying he’s going to be this and he’s going to be that – the psychological implications of a young player’s development are sometimes far greater than their actual natural talent.

“We’ve got to make sure we nurture the kid.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do (with Nico), because we have the raw ingredients of a unique individual.”

Robinson added: “I don’t see in the national team (at the moment) a naturally gifted left-footed centre-half.

“Where are they? There’s not many of them about.

“You look in most of the Premier League teams and they have a right-footed player on the left.

“So automatically you have an advantage and I am so excited.”

Jones, who only joined United’s youth team 12 months ago after being released by Fulham, made three senior appearances at the end of last season.

Having already experienced first-team football, the centre-back is determined to continue to impress.

“It’s the start of a journey because it’s only a pro contract,” he said.

“I really want to be playing regularly in the first team and that’s what I will work towards.

“Having got the taste for it, I want much more and I want to learn as well and you can only do that by playing.

“I’ve now got to work really hard through pre-season to prove myself to the manager and the first-team staff.”