Brian McDermott was hoping for good news about Dexter Blackstock’s fitness today as he looked for Leeds United to make amends for their defeat to Blackburn Rovers during back-to-back home games against Wigan and Watford.
Blackstock is in danger of missing both of this week’s fixtures after a swollen knee forced him to pull out of Saturday’s 1-0 loss at Ewood Park, United’s first defeat in four games.
The on-loan Nottingham Forest striker was due to start against Blackburn but withdrew from the team with an injury which flared up after training on Thursday.
McDermott called on Luke Varney to partner top scorer Ross McCormack in Lancashire - Varney’s first appearance since September - and Leeds produced just two shots on target as Tommy Spurr’s 45th-minute goal ended their streak of three straight wins.
United are back at Elland Road this week for a Wednesday night clash with Wigan and a meeting with Watford on Saturday and Blackstock’s availability remains in the balance.
“He got injured on Thursday,” McDermott said. “After training he wasn’t right. He phoned up late Thursday night, couldn’t train Friday and wasn’t available.
“It was a blow to us but that’s football. “e’ll see how he is.”
McCormack suffered a hip injury during the first half at Blackburn but is likely to be fit for a midweek match which will see its attendance swollen by a novel ticket promotion by Leeds.
The club are offering a free ticket to each of their season-ticket holders – around 12,000 in total – in a bid to push Wednesday’s crowd above 30,000.
McDermott is keen to see Leeds respond to their defeat at Ewood Park with convincing results against Wigan and Watford, both of whom are below his side in the Championship table.
“What happens now is that you look to bounce back,” McDermott said. “We’ve got a home game against Wigan and a home game against Watford coming up. We’re looking forward to them.
“It’s been a good spell for us really. We’d won three of the last four and five of the last seven before Saturday so to lose is disappointing.
“We weren’t as fluent as we can be but football’s not an exact science. We’ve been scoring goals lately but you don’t go to Blackburn and create countless chances. We needed to grind out a win and that’s what Blackburn did. They’ll be happy.”
McDermott also refused to criticise referee Craig Pawson who turned in a questionable display and waved away two penalty appeals from Leeds in the second half.
“You listen to managers talk about referees and it’s completely pointless,” McDermott said. “He’s out there doing his best, that’s all you can say.”