Defender Michael Raynes says he is relishing the challenge of battling for a place in Oxford United’s starting line-up when they kick-off their npower League campaign at Bristol Rovers on August 18.

The centre half, 24, who has signed a two-year deal, becomes boss Chris Wilder’s third pre-season capture following the arrival of Sean Rigg and Jake Forster-Caskey – the latter on loan.

Raynes, who has had spells at Stockport and Scunthorpe, was released by league rivals Rotherham in the summer, and can’t wait to fight it out with fellow centre backs Jake Wright, Michael Duberry, Andy Whing and Harry Worley.

“I’m a hard-working player. I’m not the prettiest in the world, but I’m more of an old-school defender and put my face in the way of things,” said Raynes.

“That’s my job, at the end of the day, to stop goals going in.

“I had a couple of offers, but when I spoke to the gaffer he sold the club to me. It looks like the club is going the way I want it to go. I’m looking forward to the challenge.”

Raynes, who was with Worley at Stockport, said it had been tough being shown the door by the Millers, so he is looking forward to the trip to Rotherham’s New York Stadium on September 29 .

“It’s never a nice thing for a footballer, it’s very scary, but I’m happy to get it sorted,” he added.

“Steve Evans said he wanted to bring his own people in and that I wasn’t going to get much game time, so I’ve come here looking to play a lot of games.”

Raynes feels Oxford will be one of the promotion challengers.

He said: “We (Rotherham) played them (Oxford) last year and they absolutely battered us at their place.

“They have kept the nucleus of the squad together, so I am hoping I can add to that and we can have a good push.

“It’s never a bad thing having competition and I’ll be pushing them (the other central defenders) as much as I possibly can.”

Wilder said: “I’m delighted with all the signings.

“Michael brings competition in that area.

“We beat off a few clubs to get him – one in Scotland and a few others.

“He has had a promotion out of this league with Stockport where he played in an excellent side.

“Then he had a decent-sized money move to Scunthorpe in the Championship.

“Michael found himself on the outside (at Rotherham) and wanted to play some football, so we came to an agreement and we’re glad to secure his signature.

“We’ve bided our time and happy to get what we’ve got in.”