Thursday, 6 January 2011

O'Brien a doubt for FA Cup clash

Leeds United were assessing the fitness of Andy O'Brien today in the hope that the defender will shake off a dead leg in time to start Saturday's FA Cup clash with Arsenal.
O'Brien was one of three players injured in United's 2-1 defeat to Cardiff City on Tuesday, and the influential centre-back is a slight doubt ahead of the club's visit to the Emirates Stadium.
Leeds are likely to be without Lloyd Sam, who suffered a thigh strain in Cardiff, and Sanchez Watt is receiving treatment after leaving the Welsh capital with a head wound.
But the on-loan Arsenal winger could still feature on Saturday having unexpectedly received permission to play against his former club. Watt was initially ruled ineligible under the terms of his loan deal at Elland Road.

Sam's appearance as a substitute in Cardiff lasted for only six second-half minutes, a spell in which Leeds scored through Robert Snodgrass, and Grayson said: "He was very impressive for that time but he's got a thigh strain. We'll need to see what the severity of it is.

"Sanchez got a few stitches in his head and was quite dazed for a while. Andy O'Brien got a dead leg as well. It's a case of seeing how everyone is for the Emirates."

Grayson, however, was encouraged by the long-awaited return of Ben Parker on Tuesday evening, the left-back's first appearance for eight months.

Parker damaged an Achilles tendon towards the end of last season, a term in which he suffered from repeated injury problems, but he completed 90 minutes on a heavy pitch in Cardiff.

The physical demands of a hard Championship game might prevent the 23-year-old from retaining his place at Arsenal, but Grayson said: "He got better as the game went on.

"It's been difficult for him because he hasn't been able to train too much. He can't train indoors and the frosty conditions have stopped him from training regularly outside.

"He'll be aching over the next few days but it's good to have him back in the team."

United's squad arrived home from Wales in the early hours of yesterday morning and will head to London tomorrow, but Grayson admitted that the club's schedule had been less demanding this season than it was 12 months ago, when Leeds beat Manchester United in the FA Cup's third round and took Tottenham Hotspur to a replay in round four.

Grayson said: "It's different this year because we've played a lot less games at this stage of the season.

"All the players in my dressing room will want to play in this game. Credit to them because they haven't taken their eye off the ball and they can think about Arsenal now.

"It's a great game against one of the best teams in the world and we'll enjoy it. Then we'll get back to the hard work of our league campaign."

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