Leeds United have suffered a huge blow with the news that talismanic winger Robert Snodgrass will be absent for several weeks after an operation to remove his appendix.
The Scotland international underwent emergency surgery on Thursday afternoon and could miss the whole of United’s January schedule, with his recovery likely to take at least a month.
Snodgrass’ impending absence is a critical setback for manager Simon Grayson, already under pressure after a run of three games without a win dropped Leeds out of the Championship’s play-off zone earlier this week.
The 24-year-old was withdrawn from Grayson’s squad for today’s match at Barnsley, and he will also miss United’s meeting with Burnley on Monday and their FA Cup third-round tie at Arsenal seven days later.
Grayson could be without Snodgrass for further league games against Crystal Palace, Ipswich Town and Birmingham City, and the loss of the winger has significantly weakened United’s options in the hours before the start of the winter transfer window.
The former Livingston player might himself have been a target for Premier League sides next month but his illness is likely to dampen immediate interest in his signature.
Grayson said: “Rob had an operation on Thursday. It wasn’t something that was planned.
“We’re not putting any timescale on things but hopefully he won’t be absent for too long a period.”
Grayson lost another of his more influential players, club captain Jonathan Howson, to a knee injury at the start of this month, and Howson is not expected to return until March.
Leeds are in the thick of a disappointing spell of performances and results but Snodgrass has shone with six goals in seven matches, and he is United’s second leading scorer behind striker Ross McCormack.