STEVE EVANS is hopeful that Charlie Taylor will provide Leeds United with a timely fitness tonic by returning to training at the start of next week.
The 22-year-old was one of the stand-out left-backs in the Championship ahead of being laid low by a virus in the middle of last month, which has kept him out of United’s last five games.
Taylor was an ever-present until Uwe Rosler’s final match in charge against Brighton on October 18, starting all of the club’s first 11 matches of the campaign – and earning plenty of rave reviews in the process.
But Rosler’s replacement Evans has yet to see the York-born player in competitive action and is keeping his fingers crossed that he will be back with the first-team squad at Thorp Arch in the lead-up to the resumption of Championship business after the international break – with United hosting Evans’s old club Rotherham United in a Yorkshire derby in a fortnight’s time.
On the timetable for Taylor’s return to the fray, Evans said: “We would be hopeful that he’ll train on the second week of the international break.
“He’ll start to train next week but he should be fully in the group by the Monday after Wycombe (friendly on November 13).”
Meanwhile, Evans has pledged to give forgotten striker Lee Erwin every chance to earn his place in the manager’s first-team plans after returning from a one-month loan spell at League One outfit Bury – for whom he made three appearances.
The Motherwell forward became United’s first outfield signing of the 2015 close season when he signed a two-year deal in June - but he has yet to make his competitive bow for the Whites after being on the periphery under Rosler.
Evans, who revealed shortly after his unveiling that he tried to sign Erwin in the summer while in charge at Rotherham, has promised to bring the 21-year-old fully back into the fold and give him a chance to show his footballing wares.
On Erwin, likely to get a run-out in next Friday’s friendly at Wycombe Wanderers, Evans said: “He’s trained on Thursday and trained particularly well.
“I’ve given a message to Lee which is that this is a big opportunity for him.
“He’s like a new boy walking in the door and he must be excited about being back.
“I’m not one to give criticism, but if you buy someone out of Motherwell who’s built a nice little reputation for himself, the minimum the kid deserves is an opportunity, not being shipped out.”