Simon Grayson has expressed his surprise and delight at Arsenal's decision to allow their teenage winger, Sanchez Watt, to play against them in the FA Cup third-round clash with Leeds United.
On-loan Watt will be part of United's squad at the Emirates Stadium and in contention to start against his parent club after Arsenal agreed to make him eligible for the high-profile fixture.
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The terms of Watt's season-long deal at Leeds were expected to rule him out of the tie in the capital, but United received permission from the Gunners to field him tomorrow soon after the draw for the third round was made in November.
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His availability is a bonus for Grayson, who is likely to be without the injured Lloyd Sam, and Watt could claim a place in his starting line-up after two effective performances as a substitute against Middlesbrough and Cardiff City. Grayson said: "It was agreed a while
ago and I' m delighted to have him available. He's a very good player.
"It's an unusual situation but maybe Arsenal look on it as an opportunity to see how he can perform in a big game.
"Hopefully, he doesn't play too well and they decide to take him back, but we'll run the risk of that.
"They're maybe thinking that on their day they should beat us anyway so it's a good test to see an individual play in a really big game."
Sam is expected to miss out after suffering a thigh strain in Tuesday night's 2-1 defeat to Cardiff, and Leeds have slight doubts over the fitness of defenders Andy O'Brien and Ben Parker.
Centre-back O'Brien suffered a dead leg in Wales and Leeds are also assessing the recovery of Parker from the left-back's first senior appearance in almost eight months.