Derby County v Leeds United: Saiz needs time to '˜get back up to speed' after six-game suspension warns Heckingbottom
HEAD COACH Paul Heckingbottom admits Samu Saiz will take time to get 'back up to speed' on his return from a six-match ban ahead of Leeds United's clash at Championship hosts Derby County on Wednesday night.
Spanish no 10 Saiz, centre-back Liam Cooper and defender Gaetano Berardi will all return from suspension for Wednesday night’s match at Pride Park with Saiz having served a six-game ban for spitting at Robbie Willmott in the third-round FA Cup loss at Newport County.
The trio’s return means United are only without three players for the Derby game with defenders Luke Ayling and Conor Shaughnessy as well as striker Tyler Roberts all out for the longer term with injuries.
Asked if it was conceivable that Saiz could come straight back in to start, Heckingbottom reasoned: “He’s had a long time out missing six games.
“We have been with him now for two weeks so he’s had lots of extra sessions with Berra and Coops as well so they have been doing all they can, getting pushed and they have performed well in that because they have been pushed.
“And I know there have been some sore limbs as well in the days after and we have then looked after them.
“But regardless of how much we do here and on the training ground, Championship games are totally different and it will take a while before you are back up to speed again and back up to 100 per cent.
“So while, yes, we are glad to have all of them back and we expect performances from them, I’m also realistic enough to know that they won’t be at their best when they come back in.”
Heckingbottom also revealed that transfer deadline day signing Roberts was having more scans on his shin injury and that he hoped he would have news later in the week.
Roberts has yet to feature for United after signing from West Brom with the 19-year-old having picked up an injury in training.
Heckingbottom revealed: “He’s down getting more information this evening so we should know more next time we speak.”
There are no injuries with any other members of United’s squad, with winger Pawel Cibicki only left out of the match-day 18 against Bristol City on Sunday with Heckingbottom seeking extra defensive cover on the bench.
Asked about Cibicki, Heckingbottom said: “He’s fine, we just needed cover with us having a lack of defenders, we needed cover there so we had Tyler (Denton) on the bench and that’s it.
“Hopefully between now and the end of the season we’ve got people fit and available all the way through but if that is the case there’s going to be lots of good players missing out in certain games between now and the end of the season.”