LIAM Manning has been dealt an injury blow in midfield as the new Oxford United head coach is going to be without two of his most experienced players for his first game in charge this weekend.

After the 3-2 defeat at home to Derby County – which Manning watched from the stands – caretaker boss Craig Short revealed James Henry had suffered a hamstring injury towards the end of the first half and that Lewis Bate required hand surgery.

While Bate is in contention for the trip to Morecambe, Manning will be unable to call upon Henry and Billy Bodin, who has suffered a setback on his return to fitness following his own hamstring complaint.

Manning said: “It’s not good news on James Henry, he’s going to be out for a while.

“He’d got himself back into a good place but picked up an injury, so he’ll be out for a little while.

“Lewis is training at the minute but he’s going to need surgery on his hand so it’s a case of what that looks like.

“We’re now trying to finalise the details on that but he trained today.

“Lewis could be available at the weekend.”

On Bodin, Manning added: “He’s had a little setback just before we came in so unfortunately he won’t feature at the weekend.”

Former MK Dons boss Manning said United would miss Bodin and Henry’s experience and quality.

“Billy in terms of when you look at his goal contribution this season and what he’s done previously, why would you not someone like that in and around it?” he said.

“It’s a disappointing one, he’s someone I was looking forward to working with coming in.

“It’s the same for James to be fair, I was really impressed with his deliveries in the first half – his inswinging corners were terrific against Derby.

“Given the height and physicality we’ve got, it could potentially have been a real weapon for us.

“To lose somebody of his quality and character is of course a blow, but at the same point, it means an opportunity opens up for somebody else and the challenge is for them to step in and grab it.”