Leeds United injury doubts for Saints as Javi Gracia takes player availability stance in unveiling
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The Spaniard was officially unveiled on Friday afternoon after being granted a visa by the Football Association and Home Office. Gracia’s application to work in the UK had to go through an exceptions panel due to him not meeting the post-Brexit immigration requirements as agreed by the FA and the government. Leeds confirmed his visa was in place at 12.30pm and 15 minutes later the ex-Watford boss sat down to face the media.
Gracia will be in the dugout for the first time on Saturday in a battle of the Premier League’s bottom and second bottom sides. Saints could leapfrog and leave Leeds rock bottom with victory at Elland Road.
He inherits a team who have not won since before the World Cup and a number of injury concerns, but he preferred not to divulge the latest in terms of who would miss out on Saturday.
"There are some players injured, you know better than me,” he said.
"I have a lot of information, there are players injured for a long time but for now I prefer not to talk about this, sorry.”
Leeds’ current injury doubts include key defenders Max Wober and club captain Liam Cooper. Wober has impressed at centre-back since arriving in January as an additional solution to Leeds’ left-back problem, but a heavy landing in the first half at Everton last weekend forced him from the field at half-time. Wober played on after sustaining the injury early on, but did not emerge from the dressing room after the break. Speaking after the game Michael Skubala suspected that Wober had popped his shoulder.
Cooper has had to endure a second spell on the sidelines, having missed pre-season, the tour of Australia and the start of the campaign through an Achilles issue. More recently he missed the Brentford game with a knee problem, returned to face Nottingham Forest and then sat out the Manchester United double header and the trip to Everton. Although he was included among the substitutes at Goodison, the club captain was not considered fit enough to come off the bench at half-time to replace Wober.
A third defender, Pascal Struijk, was unable to play the second game against Manchester United or take on Everton due to the effects of a concussion sustained early on at Old Trafford.
Luis Sinisterra also limped out of that 2-2 draw with Manchester United with a hamstring injury. The Colombian international, who only recently recovered from a Lisfranc foot problem, can boast only eight Premier League starts since a summer move from Feyenoord.
Elsewhere in the squad, Rodrigo, who told Leeds Live in midweek that he hoped to return ahead of the March international break, is still recovering from ankle surgery. A heavy challenge during his substitute appearance at Accrington Stanley in the FA Cup resulted in ligament damage. Adam Forshaw is yet to return since an injection into his hip. That area plagued him for two years, straddling Leeds’ last season in the Championship and their first in the Premier League following promotion.
And Stuart Dallas, who fractured his femur against Manchester City late last season, continues to work his way back following subsequent surgeries.