Leeds United loan star Andy O'Brien has returned to parent club Bolton for an assessment of his troublesome thigh injury – and is a major doubt for the Whites' festive programme.
The influential defender, whose organisational skills have won countless admirers since his arrival in October, has missed United's last two matches, with boss Simon Grayson loath to rush him back into action if he isn't 100 per cent.
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United – who travel to Leicester City on Boxing Day – will run the rule over the fitness of the former Bradford City stopper today, while also assessing fellow centre-half Alex Bruce, who did some running yesterday after leaving the fray early on in Saturday's 2-0 home success over QPR with a groin problem.
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On O'Brien – whose loan spell runs out on January 4 – Grayson uisaid: "He's gone to be assessed by their medical people. You do these things and our medical staff have liaised with Bolton's.
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"It's just making sure both parties are happy because he's not our player as such. There's no point in him coming back here and we rush him back and he's out injured for a lot longer because Bolton won't be too pleased with us.
"We've always stated, if any players are doubts, we won't run the risk of them (playing), because we have got such a busy period now and we've had players who have come into the team and done well.
"Leigh Bromby was very good last weekend and he's waited for his opportunity as a lot of other players have. They will get their chance over the Christmas period as there's so many games coming up."
Meanwhile, Grayson – who celebrated his second anniversary in charge at United yesterday – admits he is thrilled at the progress of his buoyant charges, sitting pretty in second spot in the Championship on the back of a nine-match unbeaten run after lying in ninth spot in League One upon his arrival at Elland Road just before Christmas 2008.
While United still represent a work in progress, Grayson remains determined to be the man who returns them to the Premiership Promised Land, while building on the feel-good factor busy pervading the club.
Grayson said: "Two years down the line, being second in the Championship; you couldn't have asked for anything better.
"But we've only just set out on hopefully what I came here to achieve in the first place.
"I did state on the particular day I walked through the door that
eventually somebody will take this club back to the Premiership.
"At this moment in time, there's a real buzz about the city and football club and togetherness.
"I want to be here for a lot longer (than two years). The major thing I was asked to do was get the club out of League One. We managed to achieve that and hopefully we can keep progressing."