Brian McDermott has again insisted that El-Hadji Diouf is on a “level playing field” with the rest of his players as the forward waits for a recall to Leeds United’s squad.
McDermott said Diouf, inset, was the “same as everyone else here” after an injury to Dexter Blackstock raised fresh questions about the Senegalese international’s prolonged absence from United’s season. Diouf – a two-time African player of the year – has not featured for Leeds since early October and was missing from Wednesday’s 2-0 win over Wigan Athletic despite the swollen knee which forced Blackstock to sit out.
Leeds are yet to receive a full diagnosis of Blackstock’s injury but United suspect that the striker has damaged knee cartilage, a setback which might cut short his three-month loan from Nottingham Forest.
Diouf is one of the players who McDermott could turn to in an attempt to reinforce United’s attacking options at home to Watford tomorrow, and the Leeds boss said: “He’s part of the squad. He’s got to try and get himself into the team, like everyone else. He’s the same as everyone else here and you could have asked that question about Danny Pugh or Michael Brown, players like that. He’s got a chance. He just has to train right, play in the reserves when he has to and do the right things. Everyone’s on a level playing field.”
Diouf’s contract expires at the end of this season and his lack of appearances will leave a question mark over his future when the transfer window opens.