MARK Sykes puts his upturn in form for Oxford United down to hard work and a surge in confidence from having a run in the side.

The attacking midfielder was made available for loan in August but no deal could be agreed.

While he started just twice before October, Sykes’s influence has grown and he has only been left out of the XI six times in the last 25 games.

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The 22-year-old impressed against West Ham United earlier in the campaign and stood out once more against Premier League opposition in midweek against Newcastle United.

Head coach Karl Robinson said: “The big one for me was Mark Sykes. I thought he came of age and looked an outstanding young man.”

Sykes insists there is no secret to his change of fortunes.

He said: “Not much, it’s just a bit of belief in myself and confidence.

“When I wasn’t in the team at the start of the season I just wanted to train well and hopefully get a chance.

“First and foremost hard work has to be your number one.

“My game is quite dependent on it and I don’t mind doing the dirty side of the game where needed.

“I haven’t done much different in training, I’ve just been working hard and concentrating on the game.

“I just want to concentrate on doing well and hopefully staying in the team until the end of the season and further.”