THOMAS CHRISTIANSEN insisted that Samuel Saiz will be involved in Saturday’s trip to Birmingham City after the Spaniard sat out of a second game running at Burton Albion on Boxing Day.
Saiz was absent as Leeds United claimed a 2-1 win at the Pirelli Stadium despite Christiansen claiming beforehand that he would be fit to play, but United’s head coach said he had chosen “not to run any risk” and promised to recall his talented playmaker at St Andrews this weekend.
The 26-year-old suffered a calf strain ahead of Saturday’s 1-0 victory against Hull City, missing a league game for the first time since September, but United coped with the loss by picking up six points either side of Christmas.
Pablo Hernandez replaced Saiz at number 10 and delivered in style with a deft chip against Hull and a classy free-kick at Burton, the latter sparking a Boxing Day fightback after Leeds fell behind to a first-half goal from Burton’s Tom Naylor.
Saiz, however, has been a keen influence in Christiansen’s team all season, scoring nine goals and producing five assists to help keep Leeds in contention for promotion.
United are set to meet the Championship’s bottom club at St Andrews, with Birmingham two points adrift at the foot of the table, and Saiz could return as Leeds look to trim a five-point gap to the second automatic promotion position.
Christiansen said: “He could have made it but I took the decision not to run any risk.
“For the next game against Birmingham he will be there.”
Leeds are assessing the fitness of Ronaldo Vieira after the midfielder was injured by a heavy tackle from Naylor during the second half of yesterday’s victory at Burton.
Vieira played on with the help of treatment and produced a glorious pass to lay on Kemar Roofe’s winning goal on 64 minutes but Christiansen replaced him with Kalvin Phillips before full-time.
He could have made it but I took the decision not to run any risk. For the next game against Birmingham he will be there.Thomas Christiansen on the availability of Samuel Saiz
Burton manager Nigel Clough claimed afterwards that Leeds left-back Gaetano Berardi had been lucky to escape with a yellow card for a foul on the stroke of half-time but Christiansen was no happier with Naylor’s lunge on Vieira, saying: “It could be the same [a red card]. We will see how he is.”