Leeds United playmaker Samuel Saiz facing race to be fit for Bolton clash
Leeds United will attempt to nurse Samuel Saiz back to full fitness in time for their next game against Bolton Wanderers after a hamstring strain caused further disruption to the midfielder's season.
Saiz was left out of Saturday’s 2-1 defeat to Sheffield Wednesday having failed to shake off a problem which troubled him during Leeds’ 2-2 draw with Reading seven days earlier.
The Spaniard played to the end of the game at the Madejski Stadium despite complaining of a tight hamstring during the first half but subsequent scans revealed a slight tear in the muscle and Saiz was unable to feature as Wednesday inflicted a seventh home defeat on Leeds.
Saiz made a compelling impression in the Championship after his £3.5m move from Huesca last summer but he has played only seven times since the turn of the year due to injury and a six-game suspension imposed on him for spitting during United’s FA Cup defeat to Newport County in January.
Leeds have almost two weeks of the season’s final international break to treat him before Bolton come to Elland Road on Good Friday.
United head coach Paul Heckingbottom said: “Samu felt it against Reading last week in the first half. He thought it was tight but he carried on and his performance wasn’t stand-out. In the following days he was still feeling it and we had him assessed.
“He’s got a little tear in his hamstring in the tendon but we’re hoping to get him back involved. He wants that too but today would have been too big a risk.”
Left-back Laurens De Bock is facing a longer absence with a hamstring strain of his own and the Belgian defender was also omitted from the clash with Wednesday. Heckingbottom said he expected De Bock to be “out for a while”.
His absence made way for 19-year-old development-squad player Tom Pearce to make his full debut, a week after Heckingbottom named him in United’s senior squad for the first time.
Pearce, who was born in Ormskirk in Lancashire and played in Everton’s academy prior to joining United four years ago, completed 77 minutes before being replaced by Jay-Roy Grot. Grot claimed an equaliser nine minutes later.
“I thought Tom got stronger as the game went on,” Heckingbottom said. “It’s a really big jump from the 23s to the first team and he’s got that out the way now.
“It’ll be interesting to see what he thinks of the game and the differences. He’s another player with good potential for this club and now he’s had a taste of the first team.”
Grot, the Holland youth international recruited from NEC Nijmegen for £750,000 in August, was given a run of appearances by former head coach Thomas Christiansen before Christmas but struggled to make an impact and was jeered by the Elland Road crowd during a 1-0 win over Norwich City in December.
Leeds have since used the 20-year-old in a series of Under-23 fixtures, including a clash with Hull City last weekend which was settled by two goals from Grot, but he made the most of another chance on Saturday, striking with a close-range header four minutes from the end to claim his first senior goal for the club.
Heckingbottom said: “He’s a young boy and he’s only turned 20 this week. Like Bailey (Peacock-Farrell) and Tom, he’ll see the difference.
“The Championship is unforgiving, they’re at a big football club, it’s a big jump in level for all of them and we have to keep working them. They’re not going to stay in the team unless they perform but credit to Jay for getting his goal.”