Simon Grayson will push a number of Leeds United’s players through an extended shift at Motherwell after injuries forced him to leave several on the field for an hour against Falkirk.
Grayson found himself in possession of a depleted squad on Wednesday night having ruled Davide Somma, Andy O’Brien, Luciano Becchio and Federico Bessone out of the friendly with Falkirk, and he is likely have the same personnel available tomorrow unless further new signings materialise before kick-off at Fir Park.
Bessone has a chance of recovering from a minor calf strain in time to play but Becchio and O’Brien were sent back to Leeds before United’s 2-0 win at Falkirk and a knee injury prevented Somma from travelling to Scotland last weekend.
All three players are set to miss tomorrow’s match – the last game of Leeds’ pre-season tour – and Grayson plans to give certain squad members a prolonged run-out having asked five to complete 63 minutes against Falkirk.
Among that group were Patrick Kisnorbo and Ben Parker, defenders who missed most of last season through injury. Young centre-back Tom Lees, who was substituted at half-time, reappeared in the 63rd minute to allow Kisnorbo to retire to the bench.
Grayson said: “We were pushed into that situation a bit because a few players were struggling with injuries. Your hand’s forced in those circumstances but when I spoke to the players they were quite happy to get a bit of extra time on the field.
“It’s not necessarily a bad thing because some of them could do with as many minutes as possible. The likes of Paddy and Ben have been out for a while and can’t play enough football. They’ll feel good with these appearances behind them but I’m conscious of making sure that we don’t push them too hard too soon.
“Pre-season’s about building things up and we’ll get another hard work-out at Motherwell. You can run as hard as you like on the training pitch but you can’t replicate the fitness you gain from playing matches.”
Motherwell are managed by Leeds-born Stuart McCall, the former Bradford City manager and Sheffield United assistant boss.
The Scottish Premier League club have recorded three successive pre-season victories, inflicting defeats on Morton, Dumbarton and Patrick Thistle.