JAY Matete has been ruled out for the rest of the season after suffering a knee injury.

The midfielder, on loan from Sunderland, last played for Oxford United in their 2-1 defeat at home to Leyton Orient.

It was in that game when the 23-year-old picked up an initial knock, which then grew worse.

Matete was an unused substitute when the U’s were beaten 2-1 at Portsmouth, and for the 2-1 victory at home to Cheltenham Town.

He was then left out of the matchday squad for the 5-0 mauling at Bolton Wanderers, after his knock worsened in training the day prior to the heavy defeat.

The midfielder was also left out of the squad when United won 2-0 at Port Vale prior to the international break.

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U’s head coach Des Buckingham said: “Jay will be out for about six to eight weeks, and obviously that will take us towards the end of the regular season.

“We’re just in discussions with Sunderland at the moment, to make a plan that is best for Jay, and make sure that he can get himself back to fully fitness.”

Matete was signed in January, and his capture, although temporary, created a buzz among United supporters.

The U’s have been without a natural destroyer in the middle of the park since Alex Gorrin suffered the first of two serious knee injuries back in November 2021.

That area of the pitch was seen as a weak spot, in particular in the aftermath of games when United were outmanoeuvred in midfield.

Cameron Brannagan and Marcus McGuane have been the club’s regular midfield starting duo over the course of the past 12 months or so, but both players are certainly at their best going further forward, rather than performing defensive duties.

The U’s also have James Henry, Josh McEachran and Oisin Smyth who can play in central midfield, while Buckingham has utilised Billy Bodin and Ruben Rodrigues as attacking midfielders in front of a single number six, with that the case in the win at Port Vale.

Oxford Mail:

Buckingham said after the victory against the Valiants: “As you’ve seen, we’ve got Marcus McGuane who isn’t here, or Josh McEachran, who came on and calmed the game down.

“We’ve got good players here and it’s about making sure now that with Jay not available, those players step up when they get an opportunity and do what they’ve just done.”

Matete made six appearances for United, three of which were starts.

In July, he suffered an injury to his other knee, with his meniscus, during Sunderland’s pre-season.

It ruled him out for five months, and meant he didn’t feature at all for his parent club this season, prior to his loan move to the U’s.