LIAM Kelly's hamstring injury is not as bad as first feared and the midfielder could return for Oxford United next week.

But Jamie Hanson is the latest player likely to be ruled out of Saturday's clash with Sunderland, while it remains unclear if Jamie Mackie can be involved.

While Kelly will also miss Saturday's game at the Kassam Stadium, it was feared he could be out for several weeks.

The midfielder, on loan from Feyenoord, limped off 20 minutes into his first United start, in the 2-2 draw at Burton Albion on Tuesday night.

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But the early signs are pointing to the pain coming from a pinched nerve rather than a torn muscle.

Head coach Karl Robinson said: "The recovery rate has been very rapid, so we’re very happy with that.

"It’s not a tear, it’s just a pinch in certain nerves where it does feel like a tear. If it is there’s no muscle damage whatsoever.

"It looks like it will be a seven-to-ten-day injury, which is good news."

Hanson was a potential option to come into a side missing the suspended Alex Gorrin this weekend, but he appears to be ruled out.

Robinson said: "Jamie Hanson has an infection, so he’s off and seeing a doctor this morning.

"It’s a reaction to something, we’re not 100 per cent sure. It’s a skin thing, nothing bad."

Mackie withdrew from Tuesday's game due to a family bereavement.

The forward was not at the training ground today and is not expected tomorrow, with Robinson giving him all the time he needs.

He said: "These moments are difficult for the family. He’s got our full support and he knows what we think of him."