Charlie Taylor is being lined up for a comeback from injury in time for next week’s crucial league game against Derby County with Leeds United ready to let the left-back see out his contract at Elland Road.
Head coach Garry Monk appeared to rule Taylor out of Monday’s FA Cup third-round tie at Cambridge United but said he expected the 23-year-old to be fit for the Derby clash after a short spell out with an Achilles injury.
Taylor was missing for the third game running as Leeds produced a 3-0 win over Rotherham United on Monday and he has not played since limping out of a victory over Brentford eight days before Christmas.
Monk said that Taylor had been given a period of rest but he is due to begin full training again next week as Leeds prepare for a key meeting with a direct rival for a play-off place.
Derby are seventh in the league and five points behind United, giving Monk’s squad an opportunity to open up some meaningful breathing space between themselves and the clubs pursuing the top six.
Midfielder Eunan O’Kane is already back in training after a month-long absence with a groin strain and young right-back Lewie Coyle has recovered from knee ligament damage, increasing Monk’s options further.
Gaetano Berardi has covered at left-back in Taylor’s absence but Monk said: “We’re very hopeful for the Derby game. I’m sure Charlie will be back in training towards the middle of next week.
“He needed a little rest but it’s an inflamed Achilles rather than anything really detrimental. We just needed to give it a bit of time to settle down. It’s good to have Eunan and Coyley back out training too because we’ve had a busy period and going into the second half of the season we need as many players fit as possible.”
Taylor was expected to be the subject of transfer offers this month with his contract seven months away from expiring.
Leeds, however, rejected a transfer request from him in the summer and Monk was categorical on Monday in stating that the defender would not be sold before the end of the January window.
United are focusing on in-coming deals and reports in Germany claim the club have opened talks with Stuttgart about a deal for Alexandru Maxim, a Romania international who Monk tried to sign while manager of Swansea City.
Maxim, an attacking midfielder, played for Espanyol’s B squad a time when Monk’s assistant, Pep Clotet, was coach of the Spanish club’s second string. He has made only eight starts in Germany’s second tier this seaso.
While Monk expects to retain all of his own first-team players, Leeds are open to offers for goalkeeper Ross Turnbull and midfielders Luke Murphy and Toumani Diagouraga.
All three players are surplus to Monk’s plans and have been training with United’s development squad for most of the season.