HEAD COACH Paul Heckingbottom will be mindful about rushing playmaker Pablo Hernandez upon the Spaniard’s return from injury in time for Wednesday night’s Elland Road showdown with Championship leaders Wolves.
Hernandez picked up a muscle injury to his groin in the recent 2-2 draw at Derby County with the playmaker missing United’s 1-0 win at home to Brentford and Friday night’s 3-0 loss at Middlesbrough.
The 32-year-old returned to training at Thorp Arch on Monday in readiness for Wednesday night’s clash with Wolves, but Heckingbottom says he will have the last 11 games of the season in mind before deciding when the Spaniard will play.
The return of Hernandez provides a welcome boost for Heckingbottom who is still without the services of forward Kemar Roofe and goalkeeper Andy Lonergan who are sidelined with a calf injury and stiff neck respectively.
Defenders Luke Ayling and Conor Shaughnessy, and deadline-day striker signing Tyler Roberts are longer-term absentees with injury.
Heckingbottom said of Hernandez: “He’s not been training which is not ideal for us but he’s not missed a long time so that’s a good thing.
“He was performing well before he got injured, he’d impressed me and he did well.
“He came back when I first took over, he trained the day before we had the (Derby) game and performed well but it was a bit of a hectic schedule and he broke down with a similar injury. We have to be mindful that we want him fit for every game between now and the end of the season.”
Providing updates on Roofe and Lonergan and asked how long Roofe would be out for, Heckingbottom said: “It’s still his calf. It’s muscle problems so I wouldn’t like to guess. He’s not running yet.
“We will get him some assisted running and see how he does and it’s the same with any injury, he’s just progressing slowly, bit by bit.
“So long as there is no setback, he will be back sooner rather than later.”