OXFORD United will not gamble on the fitness of Johnny Mullins and Joe Skarz in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy final this weekend if it risks their involvement in the Sky Bet League Two trip to Crawley Town.

The experienced defenders picked up hip and groin injuries respectively in Monday’s goalless draw at Cambridge United.

More is likely to be known on their condition later today, but the initial prognosis at the Abbey Stadium did not look good.

While both will be desperate to keep their places in the side for Wembley, United’s overwhelming priority this season is promotion.

Head coach Michael Appleton admitted he has to take next Saturday’s trip to Crawley into account when thinking about his selection.

He said: “Of course that’s got to come into it.

“Without a shadow of a doubt, there will be no-one playing if it puts them at risk for the week after and they will be made aware of that.”

The return of full backs Jonjoe Kenny and Jordan Evans from international duty today will ease the strain, but if Skarz and Mullins are ruled out it would leave United very light for central defensive cover.

Appleton revealed recalling teenager Robbie Cundy from his loan at Gloucester City would be considered if they received bad news.

He said: “That’s certainly an option, but we’ll give the likes of Joe and Mulls the opportunity to see where we are with it, then we’ll make a call on it.”

Once it is known who will be fit to play, Appleton will begin the difficult process of informing players whether they are in his Wembley plans or not.

The U’s boss knows there is no way to keep everyone happy, but will judge when the time is right to tell those who will not make the cut.

“I will tell them face-to-face, they will all know whether they are playing or not,” he said.

“I will try and make sure the players have an understanding of the team so they can focus.

“If they are not selected they will know the reasons why.

“Some will be disappointed as you can expect, but at least they will have an understanding why.”

It is an important element to get right this week, with Appleton well aware the players who are left out could still have a big role in the all-important Sky Bet League Two run-in.

He said: “What we’ve done so far has been magnificent, there’s no doubt about that, but we’ve still got a job to do and finish it off.

“We’re not going to do that without being a collective.”