MILESTONES are often something players only truly appreciate once they have retired, but Josh Ruffels admits he will take a moment to savour his tomorrow.

If he features against Bristol Rovers, it will be his 200th appearance for Oxford United.

In doing so he becomes the first to reach that landmark figure since Jake Wright in 2014.

Although the 25-year-old spent most of his youth at Coventry City, he is firmly Oxfordshire born and bred, growing up in Kidlington.

So to reach 200 games for the U’s will be a special moment.

He said: “That will be a massive achievement and is something I’d be really proud of.

“It will be a big day for me.

“I’m a homegrown boy and I never thought when I first came to Oxford I’d get 200 games.”

Ruffels made two appearances for Coventry before being signed in July 2013 by Chris Wilder – the first of seven permanent and caretaker bosses he has played under.

A debut against Torquay United quickly followed and Ruffels established himself in midfield during the season, making 35 appearances.

It included the first of his 11 goals for the U’s, in a 1-1 draw at Bury.

He was also a regular in Michael Appleton’s first season, but found his path blocked by the arrival of John Lundstram and Liam Sercombe in 2015.

Fortunately, patience is one of the Ruffels’ virtues, having found his way back into the side from the fringes several times over the past five years.

“There have been a lot of players to fight off,” he said.

“I’ve had to work hard for it.

“It’s not been an easy run, so I’m very proud of it.

“I could have cruised through it after a couple of years.

“But I’ve had to battle through it playing in different positions and things. It’s the way it goes.”

Biding his time paid off for Ruffels, who replaced the suspended Lundstram for the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy final at Wembley in 2016.

His versatility was also priceless during the run-in, where he switched to left back without fuss to help ensure United got over the line.

Ruffels was a starter again in the Checkatrade Trophy final the following year, while Pep Clotet and Karl Robinson have since relied on him.

The latter has used him predominantly as a full back, which is where he may end up staying.

Still only 25, there looks set to be plenty more opportunities to add to his 200 games – and 117 U’s teammates.

He said: “It’s crazy – there have been so many come and go.

“I’ve been in and out of the team for the first few years and now I’ve settled down a little bit.

“I’ll be proud to get there.”