PETER Leven could return for Oxford United this season after the initial assessment of an injury picked up on Good Friday revealed less damage than originally feared.

The Scot was stretchered off 20 minutes into the 2-1 defeat at Northampton Town after coming off worst in a tackle with Toni Silva.

The reaction of Leven and his teammates suggested it could be a serious injury and he was taken to hospital on Friday night.

Preliminary results of a scan encouragingly revealed no problems with the cruciate knee ligaments and the 28-year-old was at the club’s training ground yesterday walking without crutches.

U’s manager Chris Wilder is optimistic of having Leven back in the side before the end of the season, although he will not feature in today’s npower League Two clash against high-flying Torquay at the Kassam Stadium.

He said: “As soon as the tackle went in and players stick their hands up you could see he was in a bad way.

“When you see him go off on a stretcher you think that’s him done for the season.

“We’re hoping it’s only be an impact injury that won’t rule him out for too long.”

Wilder appreciated a call on Saturday from Northampton’s assistant manager Andy King to check on Leven’s condition and the United boss had no complaints about the challenge.

U’s skipper Jake Wright was pleased to see Leven walking unaided after fearing the worst to begin with.

He said: “It was hard to take because he’s not a soft lad and you could see he was in a lot of pain.

“When he’d done it, I thought it was something really bad, I went over wincing and didn’t know what I was going to see.

“He looks all right, obviously he’s not running around, but he’s not in agony, so hopefully he won’t be out for too long.”