A WHITE Knight has come to the rescue to solve Oxford United's goalkeeping crisis.

After learning that Andre Arendse was unlikely to be given permission from the South African FA to fly back to England for just one match, United coach Mickey Lewis has agreed with Derby County to take their young keeper Richard Knight on a month's loan, beginning on Monday.

The 20-year-old former England youth keeper has not played in Derby's first team, but he has had Nationwide League experience in previous loan spells with Carlisle and, this season, with Hull and Macclesfield.

He also spent some time as back-up with Birmingham.

Paul Lundin, hero of the U's Auto Windscreens Shield triumph over Wycombe, will still be in goal for tomorrow's Division 2 match at Cardiff, but Knight will take over between the sticks a week tomorrow in the home game against Bristol Rovers when Lundin is suspended. Lewis has been able to secure Knight's agreement to come to Oxford - another club were also after his services - due to his friendship with Derby's former United coach Malcolm Crosby.

The 6ft 1in Knight joined Derby from Burton Albion in June 1997.

Meanwhile, Mark Watson's hamstring injury is nowhere near as bad as first feared and he should play at Cardiff.

The Canadian was replaced just 21 minutes into the Wycombe game, partly as a precautionary measure, after feeling his hamstring tighten.

But after both he and Kevin Francis underwent scans on Wednesday evening, Mickey Lewis declared: "Mark stands a good chance for Saturday. Kevin's a bit more of a worry, but again it's not as bad as we thought." Paul Powell seems likely to switch to left back to make room for Joey Beauchamp's return, and if he feels bold, Lewis could play Beauchamp and Jamie Cook either side of Steve Anthrobus.

United's coach seems likely to stick with a flat back four rather than five-man defence because Cardiff have big problems in their defence, with three players suspended.

Manager Frank Burrows was hoping to sign a defender on loan today.

Story date: Friday 14 January

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