A waterlogged pitch forced Crewe to postpone the fixture and prevented Mowatt from taking a step closer to a first-team return. The midfielder has been troubled by groin and leg injuries since Christmas and head coach Steve Evans wanted to put him through an Under-21 appearance before considering recalling him for next week’s Championship clash with league leaders Middlesbrough.
Mowatt has made only two appearances since the turn of the year, one of those as a substitute, and Evans resisted the temptation to name him in the squad for Saturday’s 1-0 defeat to Nottingham Forest. Evans said he had been advised by United’s medical staff to give Mowatt “three or four (training) sessions, part of a game and then he’ll be ready”.
Following news of the postponement at Crewe, Leeds planned to field the 20-year-old in an internal training-ground match at Thorp Arch yesterday.
Mowatt is part of an absentee list which includes striker Chris Wood and right-back Gaetano Berardi – both of whom are likely to return from injury before the end of this month – and Evans said he was glad of an extended break before Boro visit Elland Road.
The meeting with Aitor Karanka’s side was moved from this Saturday to next Monday night to accommodate a live broadcast for Sky Sports, a switch made at less than four weeks’ notice despite opposition from Leeds and complaints from supporters of both clubs. United played seven times in January, however, and Evans said he welcomed the free weekend ahead of him.
“It’s a good thing for us,” Evans said. “We’ve been all around the country, we’ve had our schedule moved and we now get a chance to freshen up.
“We get eight or nine days to get on the training ground, work hard and get one or two people like Alex up to speed. Then we’ll be ready to play the team which I consider to be the best in the league.”