Rodolph Austin is likely to miss two months of the Championship season after scans on his injured leg revealed a cracked ankle bone.
The Jamaican international will be out until early January with the injury he suffered in Saturday’s 6-1 defeat to Watford.
United manager Neil Warnock initially feared that Austin was facing an early end to his season after being told that the midfielder had sustained a suspected double fracture to his leg in a second-half challenge with Watford’s Marco Cassetti.
Speaking in the aftermath of Saturday’s loss, Warnock said Austin could face a six-month absence if the worst fears about his injury were realised.
But the 27-year-old was sent for additional scans on Monday night after a series of X-rays failed to establish the full extent of the damage, and Leeds have now confirmed that the midfielder cracked a bone in his ankle.
The club have not set a firm timescale for Austin’s return but it is understood that the injury will keep him on the sidelines for six to eight weeks, potentially allowing him to make his comeback soon after the turn of the year.
Warnock said: “It’s better news that we first thought. We wish him well in his recovery and hopefully he’ll be back sooner rather than later.”
The United boss is facing a shortage of central midfielders ahead of Sunday’s visit to Millwall with Austin unavailable and Michael Brown preparing to serve a one-match suspension.
Brown received his fifth booking of the season against Watford, the first Leeds player to cross the threshold for an automatic one-game ban.
Warnock refused to be critical of Brown’s cheap booking, saying: “The lads were all distraught about Rudy. I can’t have a go at the stupid yellow cards.”