Top scorer Ross McCormack will undergo a fitness test ahead of tonight’s clash with Wigan Athletic as Leeds United seek to avoid the loss of their first-choice frontline.
McCormack is hoping to overcome a bruised hip in time to play at Elland Road after Dexter Blackstock was sent for a scan on the injury which ruled him out of Saturday’s loss to Blackburn Rovers.
Blackstock – on loan from Nottingham Forest until January – saw a specialist yesterday having complaining of a swollen knee 24 hours before United’s visit to Ewood Park.
The forward has returned to Forest temporarily and is unlikely to feature in either of this week’s matches at home to Wigan this evening and against Watford on Saturday but manager Brian McDermott is hopeful that McCormack’s availability will prevent a drastic rethink in attack.
McCormack, who has 13 goals for the season, damaged his hip in the first half of Leeds’ clash with Blackburn but played through to the final whistle as United fought to avert a 1-0 loss.
McDermott could also be facing defensive concerns tonight with centre-back Tom Lees carrying a knee problem and Scott Wootton not yet recovered from a twisted ankle.
“We’ve got one or two problems which you expect at this time of the season,” McDermott said.
“Tom Lees has a knock on his knee and Ross got a nasty bruise on his hip which restricted him from about 20 minutes into the game on Saturday. We’ll have to have a look at that.
“Dexter’s not going to be available and he’s gone to have a scan on his knee. We’ll need to see how it is.”
McDermott, whose players are set to turn out in front of another crowd in excess of 30,000 after a major ticket promotion by United, described Saturday’s result at Blackburn as a “missed opportunity” and said Leeds lacked composure as they chased an equaliser in the second half.
A strike from Tommy Spurr on the stroke of half-time ended Leeds’ run of three straight wins, dropping the club out of the Championship’s top six and into eighth position. Derby County were one of the sides who moved above United at the weekend, routing Wigan 3-1 on Sunday to bring an unflattering end to Owen Coyle’s reign as manager at the JJB Stadium.
The FA Cup holders are in the hands of caretakers Graham Barrow and Sandy Stewart for this evening’s match as Wigan’s owner, Dave Whelan, considers his next move.
McDermott is unless less pressure to deliver promotion than Coyle was but the Leeds boss said: “I’ve no problem with expectation. I want us to win games and what comes with that is so-called expectation.
“We feel it was a missed opportunity at Blackburn because I look back at the game and if we score the first goal then I’m sure that we go on to win it.
“In the second half we went too long. Matt Smith came on but we didn’t mix it up enough. Matt’s got more in the locker than that – he can hold the ball up and bring people into play – and we’ll certainly look at that for tonight.”