IF you listed the Oxford United players who are most indispensable, Elliott Moore and Sam Long would surely feature near the top.

It would have been bad enough to lose both players to injury less than a week into the season, but for Long to have had Covid and Moore catch a chest infection is rotten luck.

It has left the U's light in defence, but from the way Karl Robinson was speaking after Wednesday’s game at Burton Albion it appears the need for another centre back has diminished.

United’s head coach was not happy with Luke McNally’s first-half display at the Pirelli Stadium, but the way he responded after the break earned him plenty of praise.

Robinson said: “We were also in the market for another centre back, but I think Luke and Jordan (Thorniley) did a wonderful job.

"We’ll be okay in a few weeks time, it’s just how you get to that period.

"Hopefully this group of players can dig a little bit deeper to get themselves to that situation.”

Read also: Karl Robinson praises Luke McNally and Josh Johnson's displays at Burton

This suggests Robinson may now be focusing solely on a left back, rather than cover in the middle.

Moore should be back soon, just maybe not in time for tomorrow’s game, while Thorniley has started brilliantly, McNally showed positive signs and John Mousinho is fit again as further back-up.

Long can also fill in at centre back, whereas Steve Seddon's deputies at left back would be the inexperienced Michael Elechi or Leon Chambers-Parillon operating out of position.

With deadline day creeping closer, Wednesday's game may have been all Robinson needed to convince him he has enough numbers in the heart of defence.