Leeds United: Whites chief playing guessing game over injured duo

Alex Mowatt and Sam Byram
Alex Mowatt and Sam Byram
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Rodolph Austin and Sam Byram are closing in on full fitness, with Leeds United head coach Neil Redfearn refusing to rule either player out of tonight’s Championship game at Fulham.

Redfearn said Austin and Byram were on the verge of recovering from injury but did not reveal whether they would be part of his squad at Craven Cottage this evening.

Austin has been nursing the thigh strain he sustained in Leeds’ 3-2 defeat to Watford at the end of February and Byram is fighting a foot problem suffered during a 2-1 win over Ipswich Town at Elland Road two weeks ago.

Redfearn chose not to use them in Saturday’s goalless draw against Nottingham Forest but the pair are edging towards their comebacks.

“Rudy Austin’s not far away,” Redfearn said. “Sam’s getting back to where he needs to be too. It’s good for us because the midfield’s an area where we’ve been short. The lads have battled on but we’ve rode our luck with injuries.

“I don’t want to say who (might be available tonight) but if we get them back then it’ll help us.”

Aidan White, Tommaso Bianchi and Zan Benedicic are all absent with long-term injuries but French midfielder Granddi Ngoyi could be in line for a first-team debut at Blackpool later this week after playing for Leeds’ Under-21s against Crystal Palace yesterday.

Ngoyi aggravated a thigh injury within days of signing on loan from Palermo in January but he resumed full training last week. “We can maybe think about him for Saturday,” Redfearn said.

United’s boss has again dismissed suggestions that striker Mirco Antenucci could be heading to Norwich before next Thursday’s emergency loan deadline. Antenucci was linked with a move to Norwich on Saturday and his agents confirmed to the YEP that Leeds had turned down an offer from Carrow Road.

But Redfearn said: “From what I gather, it’s just paper talk. There’s no interest in Mirco. That’s good because I rate him as a player.”