Striker blow for Leeds United, but some positive news regarding quintet ahead of Championship game at Rotherham United

LEEDS UNITED will make several 'late decisions' on a number of players ahead of Friday night's Championship derby with Rotherham United - with form striker Georginio Ritter being a major doubt with an adominal strain.

The January signing, in outstanding form this autumn for Leeds, has been struggling and will be assessed ahead of the short trip down the M1.

Leeds chief Daniel Farke said: "Georgio Rutter is a big doubt, he has an abdominal strain, came back injured and couldn't be in team training yet.

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"He's a major doubt. So far he was not able to train with us. We have the last test tomorrow in training.”

The development is at least tempered by news that Djed Spence, Joe Gelhardt and Jamie Shackleton are all back in training after injury lay-offs.

Spence has been out since the start of the autumn following a knee ligament injury and a bout of illness, while Gelhardt has been sidelined with a hand injury.

Shackleton had been troubled by a glute problem.

Meanwhile, Sam Byram and Pascal Struijk are making quicker than expected progress following issues.Byram was forced to come off in the second half of Leeds’ win over Plymouth Argyle last time out, where he hobbled off with what looked to be a hamstring complaint.

Leeds United chief Daniel Farke with Georginio Rutter. Picture: Bruce Rollinson.Leeds United chief Daniel Farke with Georginio Rutter. Picture: Bruce Rollinson.
Leeds United chief Daniel Farke with Georginio Rutter. Picture: Bruce Rollinson.

Struijk missed the Argyle game following hernia surgery.

Farke said: "There's some good news with some players.

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"Joe Gelhardt, Jamie Shackleton and Djed Spence are back in team training for five days, since Saturday, all three are fully involved in team training.

"That's definitely good news. It’ll be a late decision with them.

"Shackleton was not out too long, for him it's a bit easier, Joff (Gelhardt) was out a little bit longer but he looks alright in training.

"For Djed it's the most difficult position because he had a difficult pre-season, was just with us for two weeks and then out for eight weeks. They're edging closer. It depends also on which position in the squad we need their support.

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"Sam Byram and Pascal are recovering much more quickly than expected. Both were involved today back in team training, we have to wait to see how the body reacts after this load and see how they come through the session tomorrow, then it'll be a late call to see if they can travel and how many minutes they can play.”

Farke admits that preparations have not been straightforward, given the fact that a number of players will not be able to fully train with the team ahead of the game after only returning from international duty in midweek.

They include the Welsh trio of Dan James, Joe Rodon and Ethan Ampadu and Italy under-21 forward Wilfried Gnonto.

He said: "It has still been a relatively small group as players have been involved in games on Monday and Tuesday and some have just been travelling back over the day (Wednesday). You hope and wait for them and hope they come back without any problems.

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"With lots of loads and travelling, there will be some late calls about the availability for this game. The first game after the international break is always a bit tricky. If it's on a Friday evening, even a bit more.

"We have to adapt to the situation.

"There are a few players who can't train at all (fully) before the game. There's the Welsh players who had many minutes (in Tuesday's game) or Willy Gnonto, they are just travelling back today (Wednesday).

"They will at least be with us tomorrow (Thursday), but will just be able to do a little individual recovery session without too much load, otherwise I couldn't pick them. I cannot send them into a normal team session, it's just not possible.

"We have players who will head into this game without one team session. I mentioned a few times I am not a friend of Friday evening kick-offs when there was an international break."