COLCHESTER United boss Joe Dunne is facing up to life without key midfielder Craig Eastmond.

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The talented Eastmond has returned to Arsenal early, after suffering a suspected fractured metatarsal in a freak training incident on Friday.

Central midfielder and playmaker Eastmond had made a big impact for the U’s, following his arrival on loan from the Gunners, on the same day as Dunne was unveiled as the new boss.

But, like fellow Arsenal loanee Sanchez Watt, he has returned to the Emirates early because of injury.

The U’s have struggled since Watt’s departure, with a serious hamstring injury, and they looked lost without Eastmond’s presence during Saturday’s dismal 2-0 home defeat to Oldham.

It was the U’s sixth defeat in seven games.

Dunne confirmed: “We’ve lost Craig for good.

“He’s fractured a metatarsal. He twisted his foot in the ground at the very end of training.

“Craig’s out for six weeks so he goes back to Arsenal.

“As I said to the players at half-time – are we really just those three loan signings (Eastmond, Watt and Jabo Ibehre) team?

“Is that what we are, just a Craig Eastmond type midfield and a Sanchez Watt type?

“It shouldn’t come to that. It shouldn’t just be down to three plays to come in and shake up a whole system.

“But it really does look like that now, doesn’t it?” added Dunne.

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