Sam Byram is in danger of missing the first month of the season after undergoing fresh treatment on the injury which has hampered him since April.
Leeds United have revised their timescale for Byram’s return and consigned him to a week of rest by sending the right-back for an injection in his injured hip.
Byram has been unable to complete a single session of full training this summer and news of his latest set-back has lowered the likelihood of him playing before the Championship season reaches its first international break at the start of September.
United have six games scheduled before then, beginning with tomorrow’s match against Brighton at Elland Road, but manager Brian McDermott has treated Byram with caution throughout pre-season and appears unwilling to hurry the 19-year-old back.
“Sam’s still not fit,” McDermott said. “He’s got to have an injection and then have a week’s rest.”
Byram’s lack of fitness has dampened all talk of incoming bids for Leeds’ player of the year and the £8m-rated defender is expected to stay at Elland Road beyond the end of the transfer window, despite interest from Manchester City, West Bromwich Albion and Cardiff City.
But the problem he suffered during the final last month of last season has deprived McDermott of a talented and attacking full-back who would have been in firm contention to start against Brighton this weekend.
Byram injured his hip in training prior to Leeds’ last home game of the 2012-13 term – also against Brighton – and was withdrawn from the starting line-up at short notice after complaining of discomfort in the warm-up.
McDermott has not been free to call on him since United’s 1-0 defeat at Birmingham City on April 20 and the injury prevented Byram from accepting a call-up to the England squad for this summer’s Under-20 World Cup. Byram pulled out less than 24 hours before England’s players flew out to the tournament in Turkey.
Byram aside, McDermott has only a small number of selection concerns ahead of tomorrow’s game.
Midfielder Rodolph Austin – one of United’s most influential player in pre-season – is one game into the three-match ban he received for a contentious red card in the corresponding fixture last season, a game which Brighton won 2-1 after Leeds were reduced to nine men.
El-Hadji Diouf also has two games of a suspension to serve, again because of a dismissal against Brighton, but the forward is a long way short of match fitness having returned from holiday with an infected shin.
United sent scouts to take in Brighton’s recent friendlies against Villarreal and Norwich City and found the style under head coach Oscar Garcia – Brighton’s replacement for the sacked Gus Poyet – to be largely unchanged.
Garcia, a former Barcelona player, is new to English football and McDermott said: “I don’t know much about him but we’ve had their last two games watched and not too much has changed with the way they’re playing.
“We’ve got our strategy and I’ve played against Brighton teams many times so we’ll be ready for them. We’ve got to do what we’ve got to do. We’re playing at home so we’ve got to play on the front foot and take the game to them.
“There was nothing in the game against them at home last season and I thought we were going to go on and win it. But that was a different time and a different game.
“Football’s not about payback. They got the result on the day and they’d have been pleased with that. This is a new season and tomorrow’s got nothing to do with payback.”