Colchester United have been dealt a double injury blow after duo Frankie Kent and Denny Johnstone were ruled out for the rest of the season.

But U’s defender Tom Eastman could return quicker than expected, after it was decided he did not require surgery on his injured ankle.

Kent and Johnstone will now be sidelined for the remainder of the campaign.

Centre-back Kent ruptured ankle ligaments during Colchester’s 2-1 win over Barnet, earlier this month and will undergo an operation this week.

And striker Johnstone is also out for the whole of the current campaign after he injured his knee in the U’s 2-1 defeat at Accrington Stanley, last weekend.

U’s head physio Tony Flynn said: “Frankie landed extremely awkwardly on his ankle in the Barnet game and the subsequent scans revealed he has ruptured ligaments in his ankle.

“Surgery is required and he will be going under the knife in the early part of next week.

“The recovery time is estimated at about three months so unfortunately, it looks like the season is over for young Frankie.

“Denny limped off in Saturday’s defeat at Accrington and then had to be stretchered to the changing room.

“At the time, he couldn’t straighten his knee so there was no other choice than to get him onto crutches and keep him off it.

“By Sunday morning, the knee had locked in the flexed position and we got him in to the specialist on Monday morning to see what the damage was.

“Unfortunately, he had suffered a Bucket Handle tear, (exactly how it is – a bucket handle shaped tear), in his cartilage and it needed to be stitched back together.

“Like Frankie, Denny will be out of action until next season now.”

There was more positive news though for Eastman, who limped out of Colchester’s 1-1 draw with Blackpool at the start of the month with an ankle ligament injury.

Flynn said: “Tom is having a series of Prolotherapy injections to heal the rupture in his ankle ligaments.

“He had one earlier this week and will have another one or two depending on how the specialist thinks it’s going.

“An operation was an option for Tom and that would have meant him joining Frankie and Denny in being out all season.

“This course of action has a shorter recovery time and gives us the chance to get Tom back for the last few weeks of the season.”