OXFORD United believe they have found a new way of managing Ricky Holmes’s back problem – and Karl Robinson hopes it could take one of his star men to a new level.

The 31-year-old has been seeing a specialist since Wednesday and the early signs are positive.

But the U’s will have to be patient, with the winger ruled out of tomorrow’s Sky Bet League One clash at Bradford City.

Holmes has been managing the long-standing issue throughout his career, while the U’s have been attempting to uncover new methods to get the best out of one of their key attacking players.

Although this weekend comes too soon for the Sheffield United loanee, head coach Robinson has been encouraged by his progress.

“We’ve had some great news,” he said.

“It’s an alternate medicine, with a different type of healing process, which we will keep internal, but he’s had an unbelievable reaction to it over the last 48 hours.

“I’ve spoken to him and it’s the first time he’s been able to do certain things for seven years.

“We feel we’ve got a greater range of movement in him as a player and you just don’t know, we may not have seen the best of Ricky Holmes.

“It may be that this can take him to a new level and that’s what we’re hoping for.”

Holmes, who has scored four goals in 16 games this season, played in last Saturday’s victory over Gillingham, which saw United climb out of the Sky Bet League One relegation zone.

But he stiffened up during the match and did not travel to Forest Green Rovers for Tuesday’s Emirates FA Cup first round replay.

Holmes was ready to put his body on the line again this weekend as the side bid to move further clear of the drop zone when they face the Bantams, who are bottom of the table.

But Robinson, who says the winger could be fit to make the bench against Rochdale on Tuesday, did not want to take the risk.

He said: “It’s almost like a reboot process.

“Everything I do is for the long term gain of this football club and the fans.

“I could get him on the pitch going forward if I wanted to, he’s already offered to do that.

“And I’ve had to say no because it could hinder this team in December, January, February, March and April.

“He might be back Tuesday or next Saturday, but it will be done in a very controlled way.”