BIG problems are mounting for Neil Warnock as he prepares for the worst while hoping for the best.
The Leeds United manager will learn today if midfield driving force Rodolph Austin has either broken his left leg in two places, as first suspected, or merely badly bruised it.
Warnock is also set to launch an appeal against central defender Jason Pearce’s red card in the 6-1 thrashing by Watford on Saturday which, if upheld, will rule him out for the next three games.
Whatever the outcomes, Leeds head to Millwall on Sunday having slumped to 18th place and they are in some danger of becoming embroiled in a relegation battle along with fellow Yorkshire clubs Sheffield Wednesday and Barnsley.
The loan transfer window also closes in a fortnight, leaving Warnock little time to bring in new faces, though Huddersfield-born Cameron Jerome is expected to join from Stoke City to bolster the attack.
GFH Capital are also aiming to conclude a takeover of the club which has been “imminent” for several months.
They had no representatives at Elland Road on Saturday and chairman Ken Bates was also missing, though he stated in his programme notes: “There is nothing further I can tell you about the takeover negotiations other than they are continuing and are now in the hands of the lawyers.”
Reports over the weekend, however, suggest there could now be competition for the club with American businessman Preston Haskell IV, said to be worth £250m, ready to step in with a bid.
The more pressing concern for Warnock is to get his side back to winning ways after six Championship games without a victory.
The run has seen them fade away from another trio of Yorkshire clubs, Middlesbrough, Hull City and Huddersfield Town, who are all in the top six.
Leeds also head to the Den without Michael Brown, who will be suspended after collecting a fifth booking of the season after coming on as a half-time substitute.
Warnock, having used all three substitutes, was left with only nine men after Rodolph was carried away on a stretcher and taken straight to hospital following a mid-air collision with Marco Cassetti as he defended a 47th minute corner, but the manager remains defiant. “We go to an in-form team next Sunday and we’ve got a week off, thank goodness.
“Millwall’s always an exciting place to go and I always enjoy going to the Den. It’s a great atmosphere and when you’re the underdog, you’ve got to take it on the chin and get on with it.
“Whoever comes into the team has got to roll their sleeves up. Most pundits will think we’ll get beaten at Millwall with half a team. But that’s why I love the game and why I’m still in it after all these years. It’s such a great game in England – you never know what’s round the corner.
“With Jason, we probably will appeal against the sending off. I thought it was a yellow. I think the red card was a bit harsh. His feet were on the floor all the time and it was just a mistimed tackle. People thought it was worse than what it was. Because it’s Jason, he’s 100 miles an hour into it,” claimed Warnock of the 45th-minute lunge by his defender on Matej Vydra.
Warnock, whose side suffered an equally embarrassing 7-3 home defeat to Nottingham Forest last season, was more worried about Rodolph than the scoreline. “My only concern was Rudy when I was told it was a double fracture. My thoughts were with Rudy, his wife and his family. We’ve lost a game of football but he’s possibly lost his livelihood for a while. It puts things into perspective.
“After he went off, we’d made the subs and I wasn’t really bothered, if I’m honest. I shouldn’t say that but I thought the game of football was irrelevant.”
Another Yorkshire club manager with his work cut out is Sheffield Wednesday’s Dave Jones, following Friday’s defeat at Middlesbrough.
Jones, however, is also challenging Gary Madine to work on other parts of his game to compliment his goalscoring ability in order to make himself a regular starter.
The recalled striker, who has been linked with a loan move to Swindon Town, justified Jones’s faith by netting the Owls leveller ahead of the Teessiders scoring twice more to triumph 3-1.
On Madine, who netted his first league goal of the season at the Riverside, Jones said: “Gary will score goals. But the Championship is a big step up for him and it is his first time at this level.
“Gary has got to get stronger and work on his upper body to protect the ball a bit better because we know the one thing he can do is finish.
“But you have got to have the extra bits to get in those positions to be able to finish and get the shots away.”
Jones was once again left to lament poor decision-making for all three Boro goals. Despite only a third of the season having gone, he insists his side need to learn fast to give themselves the best chance of surviving.
He added: “We are going to be okay. But it is going to be a fight and a scrap and we have to learn quickly. We are 16 games in now and still making basic errors which are costing us.”