'It feels like Leeds United are somehow being punished' - but ex Whites defender says Covid-19 injustice must be motivation

Any injustice felt by Leeds United right now must become motivation says former defender Tony Dorigo.

By Graham Smyth
Tuesday, 21st December 2021, 4:27 pm

The 1991/92 First Division title winner understands why the club might feel hard done by, having to play on through a hellish injury crisis while other clubs with far bigger squads have games called off due to Covid-19 cases and unvaccinated players having to isolate.

Leeds have managed to fully vaccinate 99 per cent of their first team and backroom staff, and are on course to boast a 100 per cent rate before long, while the Premier League has revealed that just 84 per cent of the division's players are 'on the vaccination journey.'

READ: Angus Kinnear explains Leeds United's approach to vaccination.The league's vaccination rate was revealed on Monday evening as part of an announcement that clubs have agreed a collective intention to carry on with the festive fixture list, where safe to do so, meaning Leeds are scheduled to travel to Anfield on Boxing Day with player unavailability potentially in double digits.

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Liam Cooper, Kalvin Phillips and Patrick Bamford have all been out with hamstring injuries with only the latter expected back in the next couple of weeks, while Pascal Struijk and Rodrigo are waiting for pain to subside from rare foot injuries. Daniel James has a groin problem, Jamie Shackleton a Achilles tendon issue, Charlie Cresswell damaged his shoulder in training and Diego Llorente contracted Covid-19. In the game against Arsenal, Jack Harrison limped off after colliding with Takehiro Tomiyasu in the first half.

Dorigo praised Marcelo Bielsa's squad for making the club one of the league's leaders when it comes to vaccination rates and acknowledged how they might feel frustrated.

"The players have understood their responsibilities and done a better job of getting vaccinated than other squads," he told the YEP.

"But when you see clubs with bigger squads getting games called off it feels like Leeds are somehow being punished - none of Leeds' injury problems are contagious."

FULLY VAXXED - Leeds United are on course to have 100 per cent of their first team squad and back room team vaccinated against Covid-19. Pic: Getty

Yet having lost their last three games, against elite opposition in Chelsea, Manchester City and Arsenal, and facing a trip to Liverpool before important games against Aston Villa and Burnley, Leeds can ill afford to expend energy feeling hard done by.

Dorigo says the current situation must be further fuel for their fire.

"It is what it is, you have to take energy from wherever you can, even if it's injustice, and put it into a performance on the pitch," he said.

"We have to keep going, get our best players back and I still fully believe things will turn around. We're going through a hard patch but everyone has to stick together."