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Double blow for beaten Oxford United as Richards is ruled out
A BAD night for Oxford United was compounded with the news Justin Richards could be out for the rest of the season.
On the field, the increasingly fragile U’s went down 2-1 at home to Fleetwood, which extended their winless run to five games.
And off it, the injury jinx which has dogged the season continued as scans appeared to show Richards faces up to six months out with a torn cruciate knee ligament.
A lack of confidence was clear for all to see as the home side struggled for inspiration, against the Cod Army, particularly up front.
By contrast, Fleetwood gave a masterclass in taking their chances, as Ryan Crowther and Junior Brown struck in each half.
Liam Davis pulled a goal back on 89 minutes, but United were unable to find a last-gasp equaliser.
U’s boss Chris Wilder thought the recent poor results have taken their toll on the side’s confidence, with some players suffering a mental block in front of goal.
He said: “Possibly, that was the most disappointing performance of the last three or four games.
“Maybe one or two players need to come out of the side, but you look round and these are our better players.
“All of a sudden after two or three poor results a few of them are struggling. They’ve got to find it themselves and I’ve got to try and help them do that.”
United’s manager was critical of the defending for both Fleetwood’s goals, which came from lapses in concentration.
He said: “Their two goals have come from throws where we’ve switched off and not organised ourselves.
“Yet again we’re hurting because we’ve had missed chances.”
Wilder’s options have been red-uced with Richards likely to be out for months.
The striker, who only signed a contract for the rest of the campaign on deadline day last month, damaged his knee in Saturday’s 2-0 defeat against Bristol Rovers.
A scan on Monday came back with bad news, although the severity of the injury will not be confirmed until a second visit.
Wilder said: “Justin needs another scan, but the initial one says he will be out for six months.
“The picture was a bit grainy, but the doctors are 95 per cent certain it’s torn.”