Ross McCormack could be thrown into the clash with Millwall as Leeds United fight to arrest their descent down the Championship table.
The Scotland international is set to be recalled ahead of schedule after completing his first full week of training since undergoing ankle surgery in September.
United manager Neil Warnock intended to delay McCormack’s comeback until later this month, admitting he was reluctant to gamble on the forward’s fitness, but Leeds’ damaging run of six league games without a win has hastened his return.
Warnock said the 26-year-old was likely to be named on the bench at the New Den but he did not rule out starting McCormack in an attempt to rejuvenate his struggling and injury-riddled side.
“Ross has trained with us this week and he almost looks back to his old self,” Warnock said.
“It’s tempting to involve him but I’ll have to wait and see if that’s a possibility or not.
“It would be a little bit ahead of schedule and I didn’t want to rush him but if he says he’s alright then it’s an option. Knowing him he will. Even to have him on the bench would be a massive plus.
“Losing him, our best goalscorer, was a major blow so soon in the season.”
McCormack has missed two months of the term with an injury he suffered in the early minutes of United’s 2-1 defeat at Cardiff City on September 15.
He was sent for an operation the following week but the speed of his recovery confounded initial predictions that he would be missing until after Christmas. His return also comes at a time of desperate selection problems within Warnock’s squad.
Centre-back Jason Pearce begins a three-match suspension tomorrow and midfielder Michael Brown is also banned after receiving his fifth yellow card of the season in last weekend’s defeat to Watford.
Rodolph Austin is nursing a cracked bone in one ankle and is unlikely to feature again before January and Leeds have fresh concerns over captain Lee Peltier, a player who has carried a persistent niggle through several matches. He has not trained with United’s squad this week.
Warnock, meanwhile, indicated that he was planning to drop El-Hadji Diouf at Millwall following the forward’s laboured performance against Watford. Diouf was substituted after 45 minutes of Leeds’ 6-1 loss.
Warnock said: “Dioufy’s going to need rested here and there.
“He’s been telling me how tired he is and, to be honest, he looked it last week. I’m not surprised. He’s been playing three games a week for about six weeks and I don’t think he’s ever done that in his life.
“Peltier’s a worry as well and he hasn’t trained but I’m optimistic because he’s a good lad. He plays through the pain barrier when he needs to.
“But we’ve lost all our physical players in Rudy, Pearce and Brown. That’s taken away the core of our side. Whoever comes in has got to not just play well but play above themselves physically because Millwall are a strong side.”
The Bermondsey club are also unbeaten in nine matches and one of the form sides in the Championship. Leeds are due to play a number of others in the weeks ahead with games against Crystal Palace, Leicester City and Huddersfield Town taking them into December.
Warnock said: “We’ve had some blows and everything’s building up. The next four games are against four of the most in-form teams in the league.
“They’re tough games but what we’ve got to do is make sure they’re tough for the other clubs involved. We’ve got good players and we can give most teams a game.
“But you do feel a little bit sorry for yourself when you get injuries and suspensions at a time when we were already looking to improve the squad.
“We’ve got lads who can hurt Millwall and we’ve got to hope that our big players turn up. Unfortunately in the last few weeks our big players haven’t turned up.
“They haven’t played anywhere near their full potential. They need to be like they were at the start of the season and if they perform then we’ve got a big chance.
“Every game we go into we try to win. We tried to win against Watford with nine men. At 3-1 down we had four men in their box.
“That’s how stupid we are but I don’t think we know any different.”