Chris Wood has been pencilled in for a return to training later this week after fresh scans on his hamstring injury alleviated fears of any long-term damage.
Leeds United’s top scorer sat out of Saturday’s 1-0 victory over Brentford but is expected to be in contention for their Boxing Day game at Preston North End.
Wood pulled up in the early stages of Tuesday’s meeting with Reading at Elland Road and was ruled out of the clash with Brentford after being sent for additional scans on the back of an initial assessment on Wednesday.
Leeds were confident that 14-goal Wood had avoided serious injury or a repeat of the niggling problem which sidelined him for two months last season and head coach Garry Monk will look for the forward to resume training in time to start at Deepdale.
“We’re hoping Chris can be part of the latter stages of the week,” Monk said. “He’s not going to lose too much fitness or conditioning in the small period he’s out so hopefully it’ll be the Preston game he’s available for.”
United struggled up front without Wood on Saturday as Monk left Souleymane Doukara to lead the line alone but a 89th-minute header from defender Kyle Bartley salvaged three points from a tight match.
The prospect of Leeds limiting Wood’s absence to one match is a bonus for Monk and United’s head coach also indicated that Pablo Hernandez could be heading for a recall against Preston following his resumption of full training on Thursday.
A hamstring problem suffered in a 3-2 win at Norwich City has kept Hernandez out since the first week of November and Monk opted not to risk the Spanish playmaker in United’s dramatic win over Brentford.
“Pablo trained for two days and wasn’t quite right,” Monk said. “This game came a bit too soon but he’ll have a good week’s training now and be back in contention (for Deepdale).”
Leeds, however, have a doubt over left-back Charlie Taylor who was forced from the field in the second half of Saturday’s victory by an Achilles injury.
Taylor was hurt before half-time but attempted to play on until Monk withdrew him on 58 minutes and replaced him with Gaetano Berardi.
Monk has started Taylor in every one of United’s league fixtures this season, backing the defender unequivocally after the events of the summer which saw Taylor submit a transfer request, and it is not yet clear if the 23-year-old is facing a significant lay-off.
“He had a sore Achilles,” Monk said. “The player he is, he’s a brave lad and he wanted to stay on so we said we’d monitor him in the second half but you could see he wasn’t quite right. What he relies on a lot is his athleticism.
“We changed it and when Berra came on he was excellent. We didn’t lose any level in that position.”