BILLY PAYNTER is rated as “touch and go” ahead of Leeds United’s home clash with his former club Hull City, writes Leon Wobschall.
The Scouse striker has been undergoing treatment on the thigh injury which ruled him out of Saturday’s Elland Road loss to Middlesbrough and his fitness will be assessed today.
United are poised to hand a full debut to loan forward Andy Keogh following his arrival from Wolverhampton Wanderers. With skipper Jonathan Howson suspended, along with winger Max Gradel, boss Simon Grayson could switch to a conventional 4-4-2 and pair Irishman Keogh alongside Ross McCormack tonight.
Ramon Nunez is favourite to be handed a first Championship start in United colours in the absence of Gradel.
Andy O’Brien, taken out of the firing line ahead of the weekend clash with Boro after being jeered by a section of supporters following his second-half substitution in the Carling Cup win over with Bradford City, is expected to be back in the reckoning.
Right-back Paul Connolly, dropped in favour of Tom Lees at the weekend and Alex Bruce are other defensive options at Grayson’s disposal.
The Tigers, likely to be unchanged following Saturday’s excellent 1-0 victory at Ipswich Town, are seeking their first win at Elland Road since September 1987, having triumphed just twice at Leeds in 20 league outings.
Despite their barren streak in West Yorkshire, Nigel Pearson’s troops head west along the M62 in fine spirits, having seen their colours lowered just once in their last 19 away Championship outings in a formidable-looking sequence.
That defeat came in a 3-0 ‘dead rubber’ loss at Bristol City on the final day of last season. Hull’s previous reverse on the road came way back on September 28 last year.
City are in the market for new players, but are unlikely to strengthen ahead of tonight’s derby.
Boss Pearson remains in the market for defensive cover after failing in a bid for Liverpool’s Daniel Ayala, who opted to join top-flight Norwich City instead.