THOMAS CHRISTIANSEN predicted that Pontus Jansson would make a quick return from injury and played down talk of a crisis at centre-back ahead of tomorrow’s Carabao Cup tie at Burnley.
Jansson has been left out of Leeds United’s squad for the third-round clash and will take part in a training session instead but Christiansen described the hamstring problem suffered by him in Saturday’s 1-0 defeat to Millwall as “nothing really important”.
The Sweden international was forced off the pitch late on at the New Den, leaving United to play out the closing stages with 10 men having used all three of their substitutions, but Christiansen does not expect Jansson to face a long-term absence.
The Leeds head coach said captain Liam Cooper, who missed Saturday’s match with a back injury and is unlikely to start against Burnley, was “doing very well” while Matthew Pennington completed his first full training session this morning after more than a month out with ankle ligament damage.
Pennington has not played since the first weekend of the season and Christiansen is weighing up the possibility of using him tomorrow with this weekend’s league game against Ipswich Town looming large.
Conor Shaughnessy, right-back Luke Ayling and left-back Cameron Borthwick-Jackson are Christiansen’s only other options to fill the centre of defence but Christiansen was upbeat about the news from his treatment room.
“Liam is doing very well and with Pontus it’s nothing really important,” Christiansen said. “Matthew Pennington trained for the first time with the whole squad today so it’s positive.”
Jansson’s injury compounded a frustrating day at Millwall, where Leeds were comprehensively outplayed during a first defeat of the season.
Christiansen said: “We lost our identity. We want to have the ball but when you don’t have it, you have to run in behind. That was our main problem in the game.
“When we had the ball we lost it too many time and gave them the chance to make their strengths work, with fast transitions and direct play. Against a team like Millwall you get punished if you don’t do things right.”
United remained at the top of the league despite the result and Christiansen said: “I’ve had the chance to speak individually to some of the players, to help everyone improve in the areas where I think we can improve.
“I’ll be critical individually or as a collective when I talk to them personally but in the press I won’t go out being negative and I don’t have anything to criticise. We can all have a bad day and that it what we had on Saturday. I’m grateful for what the players have achieved until now.”
I’ll be critical individually or as a collective when I talk to them personally but in the press I won’t go out being negativeThomas Christiansen