MARK Sykes’ red card at Sunderland means Oxford United will be forced to make at least one change for this afternoon’s visit of Accrington Stanley.

The midfielder’s first dismissal in English football triggered a one-match ban, with Elliot Lee and Liam Kelly among the options to replace the Irishman.

Although Sykes misses out, three important players could be in line for returns at the Kassam Stadium.

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Sam Long could be involved after an ear infection ruled him out of Friday’s trip to the Stadium of Light.

The right back has not played since sustaining a hamstring injury against Peterborough United on March 2 and was due to return against Sunderland.

Long’s ear infection caused dizziness and the left side of his face swelled up, but the U’s hope the issue will have settled down in time for him to join the squad.

Elsewhere, Alex Gorrin and Josh Ruffels are expected to return from groin and knee injuries respectively after Robinson elected not to risk the duo at Sunderland.

The U’s boss was pleased with the energy his players demonstrated in defeat at the Stadium of Light and called for a repeat showing this afternoon.

He said: “Keep playing with the bravery we did at Sunderland.”

The U’s dropped to 11th in Sky Bet League One after Friday’s games, four points short of the play-offs.

Accrington are two places behind in 13th, having won just one of their last six matches.