MARK Sykes is hoping to make the most of an opportunity tonight to finally nail down a place in Oxford United’s side.

The midfielder had a starring role in the Carabao Cup victory over West Ham United last month, but has not been in the squad for the two games since.

He is expected to start against Portsmouth in the Trophy this evening.

And with Ben Woodburn ruled out for up to three months after breaking a bone in his left foot, Sykes can stake a claim for regular football after a frustrating start to the season.

He said: “I remember after West Ham thinking ‘maybe I’ve done well enough to get a chance in the team’ – not even starting, just on the bench and maybe get a couple of minutes to try to change a game.

“It’s tough to take when you’re not involved.

“But when the chances come up I’ve got to do the same thing.

“The game after West Ham we beat Gillingham 3-0, so it’s a tough one for the manager to throw me in.

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“Sometimes it’s nice to get a bit of a reward for playing well and I don’t think I’ve had that yet.

“Hopefully I can show him I can play in the team.”

Losing Woodburn is a big blow, on top of losing midfielders Jamie Hanson and George Thorne to medium-term issues.

But Robinson admitted Sykes could provide the silver lining.

He said: “It puts pressure on other areas of the pitch and reduces our options, but I saw a young man called Mark Sykes rip it up against West Ham.

“He’s been knocking on my door and asking questions.

“I’ve been honest with him, if we’re winning we keep the same team and subs.

“I said to Mark ‘wait for your chance’. Well, now here’s your chance.”