Leeds United are crossing their fingers that Matthew Pennington will be passed fit for Saturday’s clash with Cardiff City amid a centre-back crisis at Elland Road.
Pennington is aiming to start against Neil Warnock’s side after an injury suffered by him in training at the start of this week contributed to a chronic shortage of defenders during Tuesday night’s 0-0 draw at Hull City.
A series of scans on the on-loan Everton player revealed no serious damage and he travelled to Hull with the rest of Thomas Christiansen’s squad but failed to recover in time to play.
Christiansen was already without the suspended Liam Cooper and his resources dwindled further when 20-year-old Conor Shaughnessy was stretchered off with a potentially serious ankle injury three minutes into the game.
The set-backs, combined with Pontus Jansson moving to within one yellow card of a two-match ban, prompted Leeds to take a last-minute look for centre-backs in the January market yesterday but the transfer deadline passed without any additions to their defence.
Christiansen is now hoping that Pennington will be able to partner Jansson against Cardiff, saying: “He was a doubt because he had a problem after training but he had a scan and it showed there was nothing major.
“He travelled and we treated him but it was not enough to make him 100 per cent to play.”
Pennington’s injury left Christiansen without seven senior players on Tuesday, including four through suspension.
Despite the shortage of numbers, Leeds have opted not to activate a recall clause allowing them to bring Lewie Coyle back to Elland Road from his season-long loan at Fleetwood Town.
Christiansen said the absentee list was taking its toll on United’s season, with Leeds down in 10th place in the Championship and four points off the play-offs.
“It affects the team,” he said. “It’s a big amount of players and it’s a problem, but we have to find solutions for the problems.
“I’m satisfied that the players showed courage (at Hull City) and they deserved to go away with a clean sheet and one point.
“We all hoped for three points but sometimes one is not bad.”