Leeds United defender Pontus Jansson ruled out of Aston Villa clash

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Leeds United defender Pontus Jansson has been ruled out of the Whites trip to Aston Villa on Friday evening after picking up a head injury against Preston on Tuesday night.

The Swede left the field in the 57th minute with a possible concussion during the 3-1 defeat to North End and has now entered the recovery protocol that is in place.

Pontus Jansson.

Pontus Jansson.

Whites boss Paul Heckingbottom was furious with referee Lee Probert following the game as he allowed play to continue whilst Jansson was down in the United area which ultimately led to Preston's second goal.

Lillywhites manager Alex Neil though believed the 27-year-old hit the deck on purpose to halt play with his team under pressure having seen Paul Gallagher's penalty level proceedings just three minutes earlier claiming the ball must be "really, really hard."

Heckingbottom, speaking ahead of Friday's Championship clash with Aston Villa, confirmed that Jansson was set to miss the trip to Villa Park but should be back to face Barnsley next week.

"Even if Pontus walked in now and declared himself fit there's a return to play protocol that we have to follow," Heckingbottom told his pre-match press conference.

"All being well he will be fit for the next game. It's obviously a safety first thing. Once you're having symptoms for a bang on the head or blurred vision the doctors get involved and the protocol is put in place.

"We had it with Roofey [Kemar Roofe] earlier in the season, as frustrating as it is we have to put the player first. If something happened to him tomorrow night, it's to take that accountability away."

Asked if he believed Jansson to be genuinely injured following Neil's comments he simply replied: "Yes, I've no reason to doubt him.

"In terms of what Alex said, he asked about Pontus after the game so he showed concern but in the press conference he's looking after Preston, isn't he?

"Whilst we're upset with the nature of the goal saying the referee should've stopped it he's obviously going to be saying 'for what reason?'.

"Rather than him having a pop at Pontus he's probably defending the goal that they scored."

Heckingbottom was also questioned over whether he had given any thought to recalling 18-year-old Liam Kitching who has impressed at centre-back whilst on loan with National League North side Harrogate Town this season.

"He's got a little injury," added the Whites boss. "Don't worry, I've thought about everything!."

21-year-old Hugo Diaz stepped off the bench to make his United debut in the Swede's absence on Tuesday and may be called into action again for his full debut to partner 20-year-old Irishman Paudie O'Connor who himself will be making just his third start for the club as Heckingbottom's injury crisis deepens.

The Whites will still be without Eunan O'Kane (groin), Matthew Pennington (calf), Adam Forshaw (calf), Liam Cooper (torn thigh muscle), Laurens De Bock (hamstring), Luke Ayling (ankle), Conor Shaughnessy (ankle) and Tyler Roberts (shin) for Friday's fixture.

Paul Heckingbottom was quizzed over his future.

Leeds United boss Heckingbottom 'surprised' over talk of Elland Road future

Leeds United head coach Paul Heckingbottom.

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