Chris Wood is set to miss tomorrow’s clash with Brentford after being lined up for more scans on his injured hamstring but Pablo Hernandez has handed Leeds United a boost by returning to full training.
Hernandez rejoined United’s first-team squad at Thorp Arch yesterday morning, more than a month after suffering a hamstring strain, but Leeds are still to determine the extent of Wood’s injury after the club’s leading scorer pulled up in Tuesday’s 2-0 win over Reading.
The 14-goal striker was sent for a scan on Wednesday but United are planning further assessments in the next 48 hours and Monk admitted he did not expect Wood to be passed fit for tomorrow’s game at Elland Road.
Wood’s finishing has driven Leeds up the Championship table and his absence leaves Monk with a dilemma over a system which has relied on the 25-year-old as a lone forward.
Monk, however, remains hopeful of Wood returning quickly and said he expected him to figure in the forthcoming Christmas schedule. Hamstring issues kept Wood on the sidelines for two months last season.
“Like we thought, it’s not too serious,” Monk said. “That’s what we’re happy about with the scan that came back. We have to take it again in a couple of days just to reaffirm everything so he’s doubtful for the weekend but he should be back after that period.
“It’s definitely not one of those ones you fear when these sorts of things happen. We’re looking at a very short period.”
Hernandez’s hamstring strain – suffered towards the end of a 3-2 win at Norwich City on November 5 – has proved more problematic and ruled him out of the past six matches.
Monk said: “He’s back in training. It’s a boost for him and for everyone. Pablo’s been fantastic and it’s important we have as many players as possible in this period coming up.
“He’s another fantastic professional, very naturally fit, so we’ll assess him to see if he’s available for the weekend. But we’re just happy that he’s back out there.”
Monk, whose side are sixth in the Championship, will not be able to call on Eunan O’Kane against Brentford as the midfielder’s battle with a groin injury goes on.
O’Kane has been hampered by a problem sustained on international duty with the Republic of Ireland and has not played since Leeds’ League Cup defeat to Liverpool last month.
United’s physio staff are attempting to nurse O’Kane through the pain and Monk believes the former Bournemouth player will be spared an operation, saying: “You want to avoid surgery. It’s always a last option.
“It’s just a difficult injury where it’s a niggly one, nothing majorly serious, but he doesn’t feel he’s quite at the level where he’d be comfortable to play or even train.
“As time goes on of course we have to assess it a lot closer but we’re hoping that in the next couple of weeks he’ll be back out on the pitch with the treatment he’s receiving right now.”