Leeds coach Marcelo Bielsa has confirmed influential pair Kalvin Phillips and Liam Cooper will be out of action until March because of respective hamstring injuries.
Phillips, who is 2021’s England men’s player of the year, hasn’t played since 5 December because of the problem he suffered in a 2-2 draw with Brentford.
Club captain Cooper was also forced off in that game almost a month ago.
Leeds have lost all three games since then against Chelsea, Manchester City and Arsenal, with other fixtures against Liverpool and Aston Villa postponed.
Delivering a team news update ahead of facing Burnley at home on Sunday, Bielsa confirmed that some Leeds players are starting to become available – but Phillips and Cooper are not among them.
“We've been recovering players, even if Phillips and Cooper will return in March,” he explained.
“No, that is what we expect,” he added when asked if March would be worst case scenario.
“Even if [Jamie] Shackleton comes back at the end of January, [or] start of February, the amount of players we have will be increasing. We will see where we are in January if an alternative comes up that we take advantage of.”
Patrick Bamford is now available but Bielsa has concerns that the striker is lacking fitness. He has been ruled out since the Brentford game with a hamstring injury, having managed just 22 minutes on his comeback from an ankle problem that had ruled him out since September.
"Patrick is healthy but he hasn't played for four weeks now and it puts in doubt the convenience of him playing without having done any football training sessions," Bielsa explained.
Bamford’s absence has been a major reason for Leeds’ struggles this season. His goals last term – 17 of them in the Premier League – made such a vital difference, compared when a blunted attack is better than only a handful of teams.