TOM Craddock is ready to shoulder the goal-scoring burden as James Constable’s suspension begins with Oxford United’s FA Cup tie against Sheffield United.

The third-round clash at the Kassam Stadium is the first of four games Constable will miss after an appeal against his red card at AFC Wimbledon was dismissed.

With Deane Smalley and Jon-Paul Pittman injured, United’s options for a replacement up front are limited during the ban.

It means the onus is on Craddock, as the squad’s only fit senior specialist centre forward, to lead from the front.

The 26-year-old, who is the leading scorer with 11 goals so far this season, is happy to take on the added responsibility.

“That’s part and parcel of fooball because of suspensions and injuries,” he said.

“When that happens, it’s up to other people to come in, and whoever plays in Beano’s place, I’m sure they’ll do well.

He added: “If you’re a striker you want to score as many goals as possible.

“I try to score in every game, so I’ll keep doing that and hopefully I can get on the scoresheet.”

United will start tomorrow’s game as underdogs, with 35 places between themselves and Danny Wilson’s npower League One title-chasers.

But the hosts have a spring in their step after four successive wins, a run which began with the 2-0 victory over Accrington Stanley in the second round replay last month.

In total, they have gone ten games unbeaten, the longest sequence for more than three years, and Craddock is upbeat about the chances of the U’s being in the fourth-round draw.

He said: “It’s a massive game against a massive club. There should be a pretty good crowd there, so everyone’s looking forward to it.

“We’re on a good run and would fancy our chances against anyone.

“A couple of games ago, Hartlepool, who are bottom of League One, went to Sheffield United and beat them, so stranger things have happened.

“We’ve just got to concentrate on what we do and play to our maximum – if we do that, we’re a match for a lot of teams.”