Leeds United last night cut short Dexter Blackstock’s loan from Nottingham Forest after scans revealed that the striker requires surgery on a serious knee injury.
Blackstock’s spell at Elland Road has come to an end six-and-a-half weeks ahead of schedule, weakening Brian McDermott’s squad at a critical point of the Championship season.
United’s manager appeared resigned to losing Blackstock after the striker complained of a swollen knee 48 hours before the club’s 1-0 defeat at Blackburn Rovers on November 30, and his suspicions were confirmed by Forest’s medical staff yesterday.
Blackstock will have an operation next week and Forest expect him to miss the rest of the term.
The 27-year-old joined Leeds on a 93-day emergency loan in October and was tied to the club until January 25, a stay which would have allowed him to play in another eight Championship matches.
He made only four appearance for United but scored with his first touch on his debut at Huddersfield Town and contributed to a run of three straight wins against Yeovil Town, Charlton Athletic and Middlesbrough.
Leeds’ assistant boss, Nigel Gibbs, said: “He’s got to have an operation on his knee which is disappointing for him but also for us.
“He fitted in really well and you can see from his performances how much he brought to the team. We’re sad to see him go back.
“We never really saw the best of him but he contributed while he was here and I think he could have done really well for us. It’s a body less and a centre-forward less – but it’s an opportunity for somebody else.”
Blackstock complained of pain in his knee after a training session at Thorp Arch on November 28 and withdrew from United’s trip to Blackburn two days later.
He returned to the City Ground for treatment for tests on his injury and the clubs agreed to end his loan after the extent of the damage was revealed yesterday morning.
Blackstock holds a long contract at the City Ground having agreed a new four-and-a-half year deal with Forest in January but his bit-part role under Billy Davies – a factor in his move to Leeds – gave United scope to seek a permanent deal in the January transfer market.
The forward’s setback will prompt McDermott to look at alternative options during FIFA’s winter window, however, with a Forest statement reading: “Dexter Blackstock will be out for the season after sustaining an injury while on loan at Leeds.
“The 27-year-old, who picked up the knee problem in training with the Whites, has returned to the club and will undergo an operation next week.”