Respite for Leeds as Mowatt avoids surgery

ALEX Mowatt has avoided surgery and should be fit for the start of Leeds United’s pre-season schedule after undergoing scans on the injury he suffered at Birmingham City on Saturday.

Alex Mowatt is carried off at Birmingham
Alex Mowatt is carried off at Birmingham

The 19-year-old midfielder was given the all-clear following examinations of his knee on Monday and he is expected to be ready to begin training with the rest of United’s squad when they report back for pre-season around the start of July.

Mowatt was stretchered from the field in obvious pain towards the end of Saturday’s 3-1 win over Birmingham at St Andrews, jarring his knee in injury-time as Leeds closed out their last away game of the season.

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Manager Brian McDermott said after full-time that he hoped the youngster’s injury would not prove to be serious but Mowatt underwent scans 48 hours later to establish whether he would require an operation ahead of the summer.

Speaking yesterday, McDermott said: “He’s fine and he won’t need an operation.

“We’ve had him looked at but there’s nothing serious there. It’s a relief for everyone and for him most of all.”

Mowatt featured as a second-half substitute at Birmingham, taking to the pitch moments before Matt Smith’s 58th-minute header inspired a third win from four games for Leeds.

The England Under-19 international, who is in line to win the club’s young player-of-the-year award at their end-of-season-dinner this weekend, has been in and out of United’s side since January but he produced an impressive half-hour at St Andrews, helping to seal comfortable result.

Mowatt will miss the last match of the term at home to Derby County but the positive prognosis on his knee alleviated fears that an innocuous injury would negatively affect his second year as a senior professional.

The Doncaster-born youngster made his debut for Leeds last August and shone throughout the first half of the term, earning a new three-year contract in December.

He was called up by England’s Under-19s for the first time in October and made his debut against Turkey last month.

His sudden emergence is an echo of Sam Byram’s rapid and unheralded progression during the 2012-13 term, though Byram has missed much of this season due to fitness problems.

The 20-year-old full-back will not be involved against Derby on Saturday either.

Byram’s injury concerns stem from the hip he damaged last April and he is currently recovering from a hamstring strain picked up in United’s 1-0 defeat to Wigan Athletic at the start of this month.

Leeds have been out of the running for promotion from the Championship for several weeks, and Byram said: “Saturday’s one of those games where I could have been involved at a push if there was something riding on it. If we’d been going for the play-offs and we’d needed everyone, I could have taken the risk.

“I’m virtually there but I’m looking to pre-season now and it wouldn’t have made much sense to play this weekend and suffer a setback. It’s the right decision from the physios and the manager.”

McDermott, meanwhile, remains in the dark about his future as manager with the last game of the league season looming.

The United boss is still awaiting talks with club owner Massimo Cellino, who was due to arrive in England from Sardinia yesterday.

Cellino travelled to Italy on Saturday to take in a game between his Italian club Cagliari and Parma, a match which safeguarded Cagliari’s Serie A status for another season.

The 57-year-old has been negotiating the sale of Cagliari to a group of US investors but reports in the Italian media suggest that deal is on the verge of collapse amid indications that businessman Cellino might opt to retain control of a team he bought back in 1992.

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