Leeds United will be without Liam Bridcutt for up eight weeks after the midfielder was diagnosed with a fractured foot but Pontus Jansson is fighting to be fit for Saturday’s clash with Barnsley.
Bridcutt is facing a lengthy lay-off following fresh scans on an injury he suffered a fortnight ago but Jansson trained yesterday and is hopeful of making tomorrow’s derby after pulling a hamstring against Bristol City in midweek.
Head coach Garry Monk was facing up to the prospect of being with two key players this weekend and Leeds have been forced to sideline captain Bridcutt after medical tests in London on Tuesday showed that the 27-year-old had suffered a second metatarsal fracture.
Bridcutt was originally injured in a league game against Blackburn Rovers on September 13 but Leeds attempted to nurse him through the problem after an initial scan showed only bruising.
“I’m disappointed for Liam and disappointed for ourselves,” Monk said. “Liam’s captain of the club and he’s a big player for us so it’s a blow.
“It’s six to eight weeks and hopefully it can be on the side of six weeks. But we look at it as an opportunity for someone else. We’re a group and we have to come through these little setbacks.”
Kalvin Phillips has started the last two games in central midfield while Ronaldo Vieira is ready to feature at Elland Road tomorrow after a recent knee injury.
Vieira travelled to Tuesday’s 1-0 defeat to Bristol City but did not make Monk’s 18-man squad.
Bridcutt, however, was a key summer signing from Sunderland – a deal which Leeds fought for weeks to complete – and he took on the captaincy after Leeds parted company with Sol Bamba at the end of the summer transfer window.
“We thought when we had the first scan that it was bruising on his metatarsal,” Monk said. “We thought with that he should have recovered by now and he was very close but we felt that something wasn’t quite right. That second scan showed a slight fracture which the first scan didn’t pick up.”
Jansson, however, gave Monk a boost by completing a session at Thorp Arch yesterday, just 48 hours after suffering a hamstring problem at Ashton Gate.
Monk replaced him at half-time during that game but said: “It was precautionary and he was back out on the grass (yesterday). We’re very hopeful with Pontus.”
Jansson has been a key figure in Leeds’ improved form, a run which brought four straight wins prior to Tuesday’s loss, and United conceded within 15 minutes of him leaving the pitch.
Monk, however, gave Jansson’s replacement, Liam Cooper, a vote of confidence and said Leeds would cope without Jansson if the Swede failed to recover in time.
“Coops came on second half and did an excellent job,” Monk said. “I’ve got three very good centre-backs here and all across the squad it’s very difficult picking the team. Everyone’s at it in training. You go with what you feel is best. Whoever starts will have the full backing of everyone. I wouldn’t say players accept it and they’re disappointed (to be left out) but that’s a good thing. What they won’t be is a disruption because they understand the most important thing is the team.”
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