Steve Evans allayed fears of a serious injury to emerging right-back Lewie Coyle after the defender was stretchered off during yesterday’s 2-1 win over Bolton Wanderers.
Coyle’s second league start ended on 22 minutes as a collision with Bolton midfielder Jay Spearing saw him carried from the pitch with his left leg heavily strapped.
The damage to Coyle – United’s Under-21 captain who made his senior debut for the club in January – looked potentially severe but Evans indicated that Coyle had escaped with minor damage and refused to rule him out of Tuesday’s trip to Cardiff City.
“I think Lewie just felt the weight of Jay Spearing and 14 tonnes behind it,” Evans said. “Jay’s a very competitive player and not for one second is there anything untoward in that challenge. It just showed you that (Bolton manager) Neil Lennon had his players fired up.
“It’ll be 24 or 48 hours before it settles down but it’s nothing major. That’s the good news. He was having an outstanding game and he’s clearly taken to playing at Elland Road and playing for this club.”
Evans’ injury list is mounting again, however, after centre-back Liam Cooper followed Coyle out of the game at half-time.
Cooper pulled a hamstring while clearing a goalbound effort off United’s line at the very end of the first half, with Leeds a goal to the good following Mirco Antenucci’s 39th-minute opener.
The defender made way for club captain Sol Bamba at the start of the second period.
Striker Souleymane Doukara is also a fresh doubt with a foot injury but Evans, who was again without top scorer Chris Wood on Saturday, said: “Souley got a kick late on but he’s got a habit of being able to come through those.
“It was a bit of an injury ward when we got inside the dressing room but we’ve got a fantastic spirit and that was demonstrated.”
The strain and scrutiny on Evans and his players – heightened dramatically by a 4-0 loss at Brighton last week – was dampened by their badly-needed win over Bolton.
The club had gone into the game on the back of a woeful performance on the south coast and days of speculation about Evans’ future as head coach.
The 53-year-old’s position had been weakened by a run of one win from 11 league games and vocal criticism of him by owner Massimo Cellino. Evans said: “When you come through something like Monday, it’s the worst day of your life but then you move on.
“We’ve been on a run and not to win has been unacceptable. We’ve had a lot of draws in that run but we’ve lacked the quality at both ends of the pitch to get over the line. It’s been a tough week but in football you don’t remember your great games.
“You don’t remember the Wembley wins, you don’t remember the promotions you win.
“You remember nights like Monday because that’s what gives you determination. What gets forgotten when you’re not winning is just how talented some of these players are.
“Before the end of the season we all need to demonstrate that we’re going to be part of something special next year.”