Leeds United 2 Watford 3: Injuries putting a strain on Whites

Rodolph Austin takes on Watford player Miguel Layun.
Rodolph Austin takes on Watford player Miguel Layun.
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Leeds United will assess the fitness of injured pair Rodolph Austin and Steve Morison today as Neil Redfearn contemplates his next move in the wake of Saturday’s 3-2 defeat to Watford.

United’s head coach could be without both players for Wednesday’s clash with Ipswich Town after Austin limped out of the club’s loss to Watford with a thigh strain.

The Jamaican, who produced a brilliant goal to put Leeds 2-0 up in the first half on Saturday, left the field 16 minutes from time and is a major doubt for United’s second home game in the space of five days.

Redfearn is already without a clutch of injured players, including midfielders Tommaso Bianchi and Granddi Ngoyi, and striker Morison missed the narrow loss to Watford after failing to overcome a minor groin problem in time to start.

Leeds are attempting to rally themselves for the visit of Ipswich, another side in the Championship’s top six, but Redfearn voiced further complaints about the depth of his squad after Watford fought back from 2-0 down to claim a late win at Elland Road.

The 49-year-old waited until Austin’s injury before making alterations to his line-up and only brought on Mirco Antenucci and Edgar Cani from the bench after Matej Vydra had given Watford a 3-2 lead in the 81st minute.

“There’s definitely an imbalance in the squad,” Redfearn said. “In our system you’re replacing players and putting others in positions which aren’t natural to them. You’re replacing midfielders with attacking players and it’s not a natural change. Sometimes it affects your thinking.

“Rudy’s got a slight strain and I’m hoping it’s minor rather than major. He’s been a real feature for us and he put a shift in again. His goal was fantastic, scored from a difficult angle, and it capped a really good performance. Rudy epitomises everything that’s good – his desire and giving his maximum every game.

“With Steve (Morison), we’ll have to see how he is. We hoped he’d be fit for Watford but he was still feeling it.”

Redfearn stuck to his 4-2-3-1 system in the absence of Morison, using Billy Sharp as a lone striker against Watford.

Sharp – a peripheral member of Leeds’ squad for much of this season – opened the scoring with a seventh-minute tap in, the 150th goal of his professional career. The forward celebrated the milestone by revealing a specially-made T-shirt beneath his strip.

The ex-Southampton striker had used Twitter last week to display annoyance at his sporadic involvement but Redfearn said: “Billy was excellent. He led the line well and he took his goal well.

“He did his talking on the pitch which is where you want him to do it.”