The U’s arrested their decline of late with a dramatic 2-2 draw at Burton Albion on Tuesday evening, but will have to tackle Phil Parkinson’s in-form side without three of their key midfielders.
Former Sunderland youngster Alex Gorrin – who has impressed since his summer move from Motherwell – is suspended having accrued ten yellow cards this term.
And fellow central midfielder Liam Kelly, a rumoured January target for the Black Cats, is also set to miss out, albeit through injury.
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While his hamstring injury isn’t as serious as first feared, Kelly will be missing for the clash with Sunderland.
“The recovery rate has been very rapid, so we’re very happy with that,” explained Oxford boss Karl Robinson, speaking to the Oxford Mail.
“It’s not a tear, it’s just a pinch in certain nerves where it does feel like a tear. If it is there’s no muscle damage whatsoever.
“It looks like it will be a seven to ten-day injury, which is good news.”
Jamie Hanson, another option in the centre of the park, is also a doubt having picked up a virus.
“Jamie Hanson has an infection, so he’s off and seeing a doctor,” added Robinson.
“It’s a reaction to something, we’re not 100 per cent sure. It’s a skin thing, nothing bad.”
Meanwhile, former Sunderland full-back Reece James is set to miss the next month of League One action after sustaining a serious injury.
James was withdrawn during Doncaster Rovers’ 2-1 win over Bolton Wanderers on Tuesday evening and, while the prognosis is better news than initially feared, the former Manchester United youngster is still set to be absent for a significant period of time.
Doncaster boss Darren Moore said: “It was quite upsetting at the time but the medical team dealt with it really well.
“I saw him 10 minutes later at half-time and he was really positive, the staff and hospital staff have been excellent. We initially thought it may have been a break, so we’re quite pleased that he is on the road to recovery now.”