Leeds United hoping for positive news on influential O’Kane

Leeds United's Eunan O'Kane.  Picture: Tony Johnson.
Leeds United's Eunan O'Kane. Picture: Tony Johnson.
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LEEDS United are waiting to learn the extent of Eunan O’Kane’s groin injury which cut short the midfielder’s presence with the Republic Of Ireland side during the current international break.

O’Kane had hoped to feature in Ireland’s World Cup qualifier in Austria on Saturday which Martin O’Neill’s side won 1-0 to move top of their group.

But O’Kane had missed training earlier in the week with a groin problem and flew home early as a result.

The 26-year-old has proved a huge hit since his summer switch from Bournemouth with his experience vital alongside either Kalvin Phillips or Ronaldo Vieira in the absence of injured central midfield captain Liam Bridcutt.

Bridcutt is nearing a return from his long lay-off with a fractured bone in his foot and the 27-year-old was due to resume training around the date of United’s Championship hosting of leaders Newcastle United next Sunday lunch-time.

But Bridcutt was not expected to be fit enough to play in the Newcastle game and Leeds will be hugely keen for O’Kane to be fit to face the Magpies.

There was no update as to the extent of O’Kane’s injury yesterday afternoon, with United’s non-international players due back in training at Thorp Arch today.

The club’s international players are due back later in the week though Chris Wood and Pontus Jansson could both feature for their respective countries tomorrow evening.

Swedish international centre-back Jansson could play a prominent role in his country’s friendly in Hungary (6.45pm).

The 25-year-old came on as an 87th-minute substitute during Sweden’s 2-1 loss in France on Friday evening in a World Cup qualifier.

Before leaving for international duty, Jansson was targeting the current international break as a prime opportunity to make a big breakthrough with his national side.

“If I don’t play against France then we have a friendly against Hungary two or three days after,” said Jansson, whose outing against France on Friday earned him a ninth cap.

“In one of them I am going to play so now is also my chance with the national team.”

Striker Wood, meanwhile, is set to once again captain New Zealand when they visit New Caledonia in the early hours of tomorrow morning for another World Cup Qualifier.

Wood played the full 90 minutes of the reverse fixture against New Caledonia on Saturday, a game New Zealand won 2-0.

The forward has been integral to United’s fine start to the season with the 24-year-old already on 11 goals for the current campaign – goals which have helped Leeds go sixth in the Championship table prompting talk of a serious play-off push.

Leeds also had Stuart Dallas on international duty with Northern Ireland but the winger was called up despite having missed the last four weeks of football with a calf injury.

Dallas joined up with his international team-mates last week but then flew home, missing his side’s 4-0 defeat of Azerbaijan in Friday night’s World Cup qualifier.

Northern Ireland also host a friendly with Croatia tomorrow night.