KARL Robinson held back from criticising his Oxford United players in public due to concerns about how they would react.

The head coach was furious with the lack of a response from his side after falling behind to Sunderland in the 47th minute.

Despite squandering several chances, the Black Cats then scored a soft second goal late on to wrap up a 2-0 win at the Kassam Stadium.

It left United rock bottom of the Sky Bet League One table after two matches, with no points and no goals scored.

Robinson held a lengthy inquest in the changing room after the game and hauled the players in yesterday for an extra session to through the problems.

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While he felt the second half performance was as bad as he had seen in his two and a half years at the club, which includes a relegation battle, the U’s boss stopped short of really letting rip.

He said: “There’s a lot more inside me that’s bubbling up.

“I’m frightened to say one bad thing because it would be followed by something else.”

He added: “I’m absolutely fuming. That doesn’t happen, it can’t happen.

“It’s certainly not acceptable.

“I don’t think any of them have a leg to stand on if they want to come and speak to me.”

United have not been helped by a damaging ten days which has seen their treatment room fill up.

Gallery: Oxford United v Sunderland in pictures

Of those, they appear to be particularly missing Josh Ruffels and Alex Gorrin, who were virtual ever-presents last season.

The reduced options saw Robinson change system and field several players who were struggling with injury and illness.

But those factors were not being used as an excuse for the display.

“If you use that then people are getting away with the things that are wrong right now – that’s for me to deal with,” Robinson said.

“We’re trying to find a way with the players we have available.

“Right now it’s a difficult place to be, but we’ve got to keep working hard and find some way of winning a game of football.”