Sam Byram will make another appearance in a development-league clash with Derby County on Monday after coming safely through a test of his fitness at Huddersfield Town earlier this week.
Byram is to be given an extended run-out against Derby with Leeds increasingly optimistic that their player of the year will avoid an operation on his long-standing hip injury.
The right-back was used for 45 minutes as United’s Under-21s lost 2-1 to Huddersfield on Monday afternoon and United are ready to field him again after seeing no negative reaction.
A successful appearance against Derby at Elland Road would edge Byram towards a first-team comeback less than a month after Leeds looked poised to send the 19-year-old for surgery.
Manager Brian McDermott said: “It’s been good news with Sam, he was okay.
“There’s another game coming up against Derby at Elland Road and we’ll try and give him more than 45 minutes this time. That’ll be a big plus if we can get him through and get him back.
“I hope it’s looking more positive for him. It would be great to have him available.”
Byram has been fighting a hip complaint for almost four months having succumbed to it a week before the end of last season. He has not played in a first-team fixture since Leeds lost at Birmingham City on April 20, McDermott’s third game as manager.
The club seemed increasingly resigned to committing him to an operation at the start of this month but a specialist injection in his injured hip allowed him to resume full training at Thorp Arch.
Monday marks the start of a two-week international break, 48 hours after Leeds play Queens Park Rangers at Elland Road, and the gap between matches could allow Byram to move closer towards a senior recall ahead of the visit to Bolton Wanderers on September 14.
McDermott, meanwhile, paid tribute to United’s academy after Alex Mowatt became the latest self-produced player to follow Byram’s lead by making his senior debut for the club.
Mowatt, 18, turned in an impressive 74-minute appearance in Tuesday’s League Cup win at Doncaster Rovers and McDermott said: “He’s a really rounded young man. The staff have brought these lads up well and Neil Redfearn (Leeds’ development coach) has done a fantastic job. He and his coaches are grounded people and that reflects on the young players here. We should be proud of our academy.”