MARK Sykes knows he could not afford to let his extended run in the Oxford United side pass him by.

The U’s yesterday triggered contract options to keep the Irish midfielder and teammate Alex Gorrin at the club for another year.

Sykes has found a rich vein of form at the right time and has featured every time he has been available since February 2.

It is a real contrast to earlier in the season, when the 23-year-old played just three times in December and January combined after falling out of favour.

It was a frustrating time, but Sykes feels he has since seized his opportunity.

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He said: “It wasn’t long ago that I couldn’t get a kick.

“Now I’ve come in and I feel like I’m contributing really well, so you’ve got to take your chance and look after yourself when you’re not playing.

“When you do get in, you make sure you stay in.”

With his immediate future secure, the midfielder’s next goal is to help United reach the Sky Bet League One play-offs.

The U’s dropped two places to seventh without playing last night, but remain in the hunt after top-six rivals Portsmouth and Charlton Athletic conceded last-minute goals.

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And Sykes reckons victories in their final two games of the season would give United every chance.

“If we win our next two games we’ll be really unlucky not to end up in those places,” he said.

“Our first time in the play-offs wasn’t too long ago.

“You can be in there all season and come the end you’re not in them.

“Hopefully we can look after ourselves and pick up two big wins.”

Gorrin has recently returned from a thigh injury and is keen to join the U’s play-off push.

The Spanish midfielder said: “That was our target at the start of the season, so it would be really good to achieve it.

“It wasn’t easy, but we’re still in the mix and hopefully we can do it.”