Leeds United are assessing emergency goalkeeping options after an injury to Bailey Peacock-Farrell left Marcelo Bielsa facing a crisis ahead of Saturday’s game against Bristol City.
United are understood to have applied for dispensation to make a short-term loan signing after losing both of their senior keepers to injury in the space of a week.
Jamal Blackman’s year-long loan from Chelsea was cut short on Friday by a badly broken leg suffered in an Under-23s game and Peacock-Farrell is a major doubt for the weekend with a knee problem picked up in training yesterday.
Bielsa took the unusual step of confirming today that he had planned to drop Peacock-Farrell and replace him with Blackman against Bristol City, despite losing Blackman to season-ending surgery, but the chance to revert back to Peacock-Farrell has been thwarted by a muscular issue.
Leeds are outwith the transfer window but the Football Association and EFL are able to sanction seven-day signings if a club find themselves without a first-choice keeper through injury or suspension.
United would have until 12pm tomorrow to register a new keeper in time to start against Bristol City at Elland Road.
WATCH: Leeds United head coach Marcelo Bielsa's pre-Bristol City press conference
The failure to finalise a transfer would leave Bielsa to pick from academy players Will Huffer and Kamil Miazek.
Huffer, an England Under-20 international, has never played at senior level while former Feyenoord youngster Miazek gained a small amount of experience in Poland two seasons ago.
Bielsa has another major concern in the centre of defence after revealing that a foot injury was likely to sideline Pontus Jansson but his goalkeeping crisis was the centre of attention amid a scramble to secure cover.
Leeds were heavily linked with Burnley’s Tom Heaton earlier this week amid efforts by the club to line up a longer-term replacement for Blackman when the January window opens but EFL clubs are not permitted to make emergency signings from the Premier League.
The YEP understands that West Bromwich Albion’s Jonathan Bond is an option United have looked at.
Bielsa said: “For Farrell it will be difficult because yesterday at the end of the training session he had a problem in his knee. He won't be able to play.
“Probably Kamil or Will will play. I can't tell you anything about the possibility of bringing someone in.”
Bielsa admitted he was undecided over whether Miazek or Huffer would be handed a debut if a new arrival did not materialise. “I haven’t taken any decisions yet,” he said.
United’s head coach could also have an academy debutant in the middle of his defence on Saturday with Finnish youngster Aapo Halme being considered as a stand-in for Jansson.
Jansson missed training yesterday and is not expected to feature against Bristol City having pulled out of international duty with Sweden last week.
The centre-back damaged a foot in Leeds’ previous match, a heavy 4-1 defeat to West Bromwich Albion, and joins Luke Ayling and Gaetano Berardi on the sidelines. Bielsa expects to choose between 20-year-old Halme - a development-squad regular who arrived from HJK Helsinki last season - and midfielder Kalvin Phillips to partner Liam Cooper at centre-back.
Leeds United v Bristol City: Pontus Jansson and Bailey Peacock-Farrell set to miss Robins clash
“I think (Jansson) won't be available for this weekend,” Bielsa said. “Until yesterday we thought he would be available but now the game is near I don't have the same optimism.
“Phillips can play as a centre-back. Aapo Halme is another possibility. Those are the two possibilities.”
Leeds, who sit third in the Championship, are under pressure to respond to their heaviest defeat of the campaign at West Brom and will play in front of a sell-out crowd against Lee Johnson’s Bristol City this weekend.
Bielsa insisted he would not allow a heavily-weakened backline to act as an excuse, saying: “I never think that we can’t win the next game.
“I can’t say either that it’s the same thing if we don’t have Berardi, Jansson, Ayling, Blackman and Farrell. If I say that you’ll say it doesn’t make sense.
“But I don’t think that because I lost five players we don’t have the duty to win the next game. I think the opposite. I think that the bigger the adversity, the stronger you have to be.”