Leeds United midfielder Eunan O’Kane is set to resume full training ahead of Monday’s clash with Rotherham United but the Republic of Ireland international will not be risked in the Yorkshire derby.
Head coach Garry Monk said O’Kane, who has not played since limping out of a League Cup tie at Liverpool last month, was on the verge of a comeback from a niggling groin injury but indicated that the 25-year-old would be held back until after Monday’s fixture.
O’Kane has missed six matches with a persistent problem which flared up during a spell of international duty with the Republic of Ireland in November.
Both he and Monk dismissed the possibility of O’Kane undergoing surgery and Leeds appear to have nursed him back to full fitness after a month on the sidelines.
“We’re hoping he’s back in training before the Rotherham game,” Monk said. “It’s probably doubtful he’ll be ready for the game but looking beyond that, he’ll be training and fighting for his place in the team.”
Left-back Charlie Taylor, who has an Achilles injury, has more chance of being involved against Rotherham and Monk is hopeful of having Kyle Bartley available after the centre-back missed yesterday’s 1-1 draw at Aston Villa.
Bartley was ruled out with a minor knee problem and Monk said his absence was unrelated to the clash of heads he suffered during Leeds’ Boxing Day win at Preston North End.
“Had the game been another 24 hours he would probably have been all right,” Monk said. “It was just a knock on his knee, nothing to do with the clash of heads.”
Liam Cooper stepped in for Bartley at Villa Park, fitting in comfortably until his handball on 86 minutes allowed Villa to snatch a point with a penalty.
Monk refused to lay any blame at Cooper’s door, saying: “I thought Coops was very unfortunate with the decision and the way it happened. The team deserve massive credit.”