MARK Sykes knows this is one of the most important seasons of his career to date.

The 23-year-old has improved steadily since joining Oxford United from Northern Irish Premier League side Glenavon in January 2019 and will wear the No 10 shirt this season.

It is recognition of some impressive displays in 2019/20, including in the Sky Bet League One play-off final defeat to Wycombe Wanderers.

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The midfielder scored in the 2-1 reverse, but the strike was only his third for the U’s.

That may suggests Sykes’ personal target of 10 goals for the season may seem ambitious, but he insists it is time to aim high.

He said: “Every year I think to myself how I can improve and I want to add more goals and assists to my game.

“This season really is big for me.

“I’m really getting into my stride and hopefully it’s a good one.”

The No 10 shirt carries a lot of weight, but Sykes is ready for the challenge.

He said: “It is just a number, but a lot of players around the world who get the number are quite important to the team.

“That’s all I want to be – I don’t want to be a squad player, I want to be playing every week.”