Leeds United: Ngoyi’s first-team future still hanging by a thread

Neil Redfearn.
Neil Redfearn.
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Granddi Ngoyi’s loan at Leeds United is in danger of ending without a single first-team appearance after a fresh recurrence of his thigh strain denied him a debut at Blackpool on Saturday.

The midfielder is back in the treatment room with the injury he was carrying when United signed him on a half-season loan from Italian club Palermo in January.

Ngoyi broke down during his first week of training at Thorp Arch but he looked to have overcome the injury last week and played for 88 minutes in an Under-21 game between Leeds and Crystal Palace on Tuesday.

Head coach Neil Redfearn had tentatively planned to include him in his squad for Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Bloomfield Road but he was forced to omit the 26-year-old after another setback.

Ngoyi will receive treatment during the fortnight-long international break but United have just seven games of the season remaining and Redfearn said he was “disappointed” that he had so far been denied the chance to watch Ngoyi in a Championship match.

United’s season resumes at home to Blackburn Rovers on April 4, one of two fixtures in three days over the Easter weekend.

“He’s got a slight reaction,” Redfearn said. “That’s disappointing because obviously I would have liked to have had a look at him at some point. We’ll have to see how that settles down. The guy’s come here with a little bit of a niggle and it’s ended up being a problem.

“I’d like to look at Granddi before the end of the season and he’d probably have come given us something on a difficult pitch (at Blackpool) – a physical presence.

“I’m hoping it’s just a bit of a tired reaction rather than a strain or an aggravation. Fingers crossed.”

Rodolph Austin was included in the 18-man squad at Bloomfield Road but was left as an unused substitute after a four-game absence.

Redfearn, meanwhile, repeated his call for England to tread carefully with Alex Mowatt and Lewis Cook when the midfielders link up with the Under-20s and Under-19s respectively this week.

Mowatt has been selected for two friendlies while Cook is available for three European Championship qualifiers in France.

Both players started a laboured and scrappy contest at Blackpool and Redfearn said: “They’re important to us. They’ve played most of the games this season and it’s a tough campaign. It takes it out of you physically and mentally.

“The lads could have done with a break but to get called up by your country is fantastic. We don’t want to deny them that.”