Leeds United left-back Charlie Taylor will be missing for the sixth game running tomorrow the club believe the defender is over the worst of his Achilles injury.
Taylor has been ruled out of Leeds’ Yorkshire derby at Barnsley and is yet to resume full training having limping out of a 1-0 win over Brentford eight days before Christmas. The 23-year-old, who was expected to be the subject of transfer offers this month but has been largely out of the headlines due to his recent absence, had been ever present in league games prior to that fixture but his spell on the sidelines is set to run into a sixth week.
Gaetano Berardi stepped in as his replacement at left-back and is due to start away at Barnsley tomorrow with Garry Monk’s defensive options still limited. Monk said: “Charlie will be out for this game but he’s making really good strides. The inflammation around his Achilles has gone down and that’s a really good sign.
“It’s a case now of trying to build him back up once he’s back on the grass, which he isn’t at the moment.”
Centre-back Pontus Jansson serves the second match of a two-game ban this weekend, clearing the way for him to return against Nottingham Forest on Wednesday, but Liam Cooper is close to a return from a leg injury suffered in Leeds’ FA Cup win at Cambridge United. The problem forced him to miss last week’s clash with Derby County but Monk said: “Coops is very close. If it’s not this one it should 99 per cent be the game after against Forest. But we’re hopeful it’ll be this game.”
A shortage of defenders saw Monk field three recognised right-backs in his back four against Derby, with Luke Ayling switching to a central position alongside Kyle Bartley, but a tight display against a Derby side who were heavily outplayed could tempt United’s head coach to keep faith with the same players.
“I’ll have to have a look at what’s best but if you look across the whole season, we’ve had to make changes throughout the back four,” Monk said. “It’s doesn’t seem to be making a difference.
“Ideally it’s not something you want to cope with but you know you’ll face these situations. The key is preparation. What you’re seeing now is the work we’ve put in from day one. The players are clear on what they have to deliver. It’s about whether they can deliver that performance and so far they have. It’ll never be about them not knowing what they’re supposed to be doing.”