Marcelo Bielsa hopes Patrick Bamford will be fit to play early next month amid confidence at Leeds United that the striker’s injury will not affect his involvement in the second half of the season.
Bamford is nursing a fresh knee problem sustained in training last week but Leeds have sent him for scans and expect him to be available to Bielsa shortly after the turn of the year.
The 25-year-old was hurt after landing awkwardly 24 hours before Sunday’s 3-2 win at Aston Villa and dropped out of the travelling squad for that game.
Leeds sent him for immediate assessments having seen Bamford miss three-and-a-half months of this season with a damaged posterior cruciate ligament sustained in September.
Bielsa lost him for 14 matches to damage he suffered during an Under-23s game at Elland Road in the term’s first international break.
Bamford avoided surgery but was not able to play again until his goalscoring return in a 1-0 win at Bolton Wanderers on December 15.
He was absent from United’s dramatic Boxing Day win over Blackburn Rovers and is set to miss Saturday's clash with Hull City but Bielsa hopes his options up front will be improved this weekend by Tyler Roberts’ comeback from a minor groin niggle.
Roberts was also left out of the Villa and Blackburn matches due to doubts over his fitness.
“Roberts will be back before Bamford,” Bielsa said. “Tyler Roberts might be with us in the next game and I think Patrick Bamford will be with us at the beginning of January.”
Bielsa has other players fighting to regain full fitness and club captain Liam Cooper is likely to be available after knee surgery within the next fortnight.
Fellow defender Gaetano Berardi has been missing since tearing a hamstring against Ipswich Town in October but Rob Price, the club’s head of medicine and performance, said last week that the defender was doing “some unbelievable work”.
Midfielder Izzy Brown remains on the sidelines with a hamstring strain.