MARK Sykes will have plenty to distract him from Oxford United’s Wembley disappointment this summer.

The 22-year-old scored what looked like being a crucial goal in the Sky Bet League One play-off final.

But his equaliser ultimately counted for nothing as Wycombe Wanderers hit back to win 2-1.

United’s players have now started their summer break, but Sykes has a very good reason for not heading back to Northern Ireland.

He said: “I think we have two or three weeks off and get back into it.

“My partner’s having a baby, so I can’t really get home.

“She’s due in the next month and she might go early, so we’ll stay here.

“I’ve moved house in the last few days, so I’ve got a lot to look forward to.”

Sykes should also be optimistic when next season starts.

His first full campaign in English football had a rocky beginning, as he fell out of favour and looked destined for a loan move last August.

But the attacking midfielder forced his way back into Karl Robinson’s plans and made 39 appearances.

Sykes said: “It’s been up and down.

“That’s the story in football, everyone’s careers are up and down no matter who you are.

“At the start of the season I wasn’t even involved in the squad.

“I spoke to the manager and knew I was good enough to get in the team.

“I got a chance against West Ham and I’ve been in ever since.”

It also got him into the Northern Ireland set-up, where he will be hoping to be part of new manager Ian Baraclough’s plans.

Having played under the former Queens Park Rangers defender in the under 21s, Sykes could make his senior international debut before United start their campaign, with Nations League fixtures against Romania and Norway scheduled for early September.

Top of Sykes’s to-do list for the new campaign will be to become a more regular scorer.

The effort at Wembley was only his third of the season – and it came via a slice of fortune.

“It was a cross, I’ve no problem in saying that,” Sykes said.

“They all count, but it’s not worth it when you don’t win the game

“It’s heart-breaking. If I could swap it for an own goal and we go up then I’d 100 per cent do it in a heart beat.

“It wasn’t to be, hopefully next year we can come back and do it again to maybe get the result we want.”