United manager on potential returns on New Year’s Day…

Brian McDermott is hopeful of having the services of Alex Mowatt for the New Year’s Day clash against Blackburn Rovers (3pm) at Elland Road.

The 18-year-old was withdrawn at half time against Barnsley earlier this month and missed the away matches against Blackpool and Nottingham Forest.

Over the Christmas period the young midfielder has had an injection in his back to solve a problem that occurred during the summer and the manager is hopeful the midfielder will be available for selection on January 1.

“Alex Mowatt has had an injection in his back which we hope has solved a little bit of a problem,” said the manager. “We took him out of the team to make sure that was sorted and we are hopeful that he will be available as well.

“He had an ongoing problem in the summer and that was something that we were trying to take care of. We have to manage Alex.

“He has now had this injection in his back and we think that has made a difference to him.

“He was moving really freely before but in the Barnsley match, in the first half, you could see he wasn’t moving the way he was previously. That’s why we had to take him off in that game and that is why we have had to rest him.

“But now we are hopeful that he is going to be alright.”

The United manager is hoping to have his goalkeeper Paddy Kenny available for the clash after he came through the full 90 minutes against Nottingham Forest.

The keeper collided with Greg Halford in the early minutes of the match and took a heavy blow to his ankle, which meant that Marius Zaliukas took over goal-kicks for the remainder of the afternoon.

“Paddy did well to get through the game on Sunday,” added the boss. “He obviously took that tackle really early on in the game and his ankle was swollen up and we weren’t sure if we’d get him out for the second half.

“But he did and he did fantastically well, he couldn’t kick the ball but in the second half they didn’t really trouble us, apart the guy that smashed it in the top corner.

“So we are hopeful on Paddy.”

United continue to be without the midfield duo of Paul Green and David Norris and goalkeeper Jamie Ashdown, but the boss is hoping to have Noel Hunt available for selection in the New Year.

“Noel Hunt is back in training now and he is playing and moving in the way that I know he can,” said the manager.

“Obviously from Noel’s point of view he wants to get out there and show the Leeds fans what he can do.”