MARCUS McGuane will miss Oxford United’s home clash with Northampton Town tonight, while skipper Elliott Moore is rated at 50/50 as to his availability.

Both players missed the weekend trip to Wycombe Wanderers, with McGuane ruled out due to a quad problem, while Moore suffered a hip issue.

U’s captain Moore was replaced in the starting line-up by Stephan Negru, who performed exemplarily amid much aerial bombardment from the Chairboys.

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United head coach Des Buckingham said of Moore: “He’s gone out and done a session by himself, and he’s probably 50/50, but the hope is definitely for Saturday. It’s just whether or not we want to push him.

“Steph was out of the squad for the two games before, and I think that shows that players have to make sure they use training to keep themselves where they need to be, because they can come straight back in.

“I thought Steph defended extremely well and contributed towards a clean sheet, which was the first in a while, at a very tough place.”

On McGuane, Buckingham said: “Marcus will miss out, but again, the hope is that as long as he responds well to training this week, he should be back in contention for Saturday.”

Oisin Smyth meanwhile is available again for the U’s after missing the last four games due injury, but Fin Stevens will either return this weekend at home to Leyton Orient, or at Portsmouth the one after.

Buckingham said: “He will return to the grass on Thursday, so could be in contention for Saturday. If not, it will definitely be the Saturday after.”

Buckingham again spoke of the need for a reserve team, something which would allow players returning from injury and those short of minutes some valuable game time.

“We’re starting to see most of the players back, and we as a club have discussed for next season, having a reserve team or B team,” he said.

“It serves three different purposes, with one being those players coming back from injury, giving them a platform which isn’t just training and then jumping back into league football or competitive football.

“It’s that middle ground for training and a competitive environment, to an extent.

“It helps link the academy with the first team, so those young players that are doing extremely well, have an opportunity to play with the seniors or peers in a competitive game.

“And it tops up those minutes for players that aren’t playing or maybe haven’t played as much as we would like them to, so when they do get their chance to come on and have an impact, they can show what they can do.

“It’s something the club are really looking at, and hopefully it’s in place for next season.”