PSV make changes prior to Leeds encounter

Click to follow
The Independent Football

The PSV Eindhoven striker, Arnold Bruggink, has been ruled out of tomorrow's Uefa Cup fourth-round match against Leeds United at Elland Road.

The Dutch international has failed to recover from a hamstring injury which forced him out of the first-leg draw in the Netherlands last week. He was a doubt after missing the 4-0 win over Utrecht at the weekend and the club have confirmed Theo de Lucius will take his place in the squad.

Lucius, a midfielder who has also played for Den Bosch and Utrecht, is unlikely to start as the coach, Eric Gerets, will probably opt for a front pairing of Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink and John de Jong.

Meanwhile, Peter Ridsdale, the Leeds United chairman, has asked those supporters who are frustrated with the club's current run not to panic. Five weeks ago, Ridsdale told the same supporters to "relax and enjoy the ride" as Leeds were lying in third place in the Premiership, in contention for the title.

Now, Sunday's goalless draw with Charlton Athletic means that Leeds have gone eight matches without a win, stretching back to New Year's Day. David O'Leary's side have taken three points from the last 18 and are nine points adrift of the top four, with the leading quartet guaranteed Champions' League football next season. The prospect of Intertoto Cup football looms for O'Leary's expensive squad, with the Irishman yet to deliver a trophy during his three-and-a-half years in charge.

"Our fans need to relax a bit," Ridsdale said. "We realise you are ambitious and we want to meet those ambitions. But let us not panic just because we have fallen off the pace a little. I would like to remind all of our supporters that, apart from during the Revie era, this club has never consistently finished in the top six. We have had finishes of fourth, third, fourth and now we are aiming for the top four again. This is the best run since 1974.

"So we will not allow a short-term blip in results to worry us. We will not be pressing the panic button simply because we have not won a few games."

It would appear Leeds' hopes of keeping their season alive rest on the PSV match and they are the slight favourites following last week's goalless draw.

The Uefa Cp is a trophy Ridsdale would love to win. "We set our stall out at the beginning of the season to get in the Champions' League, so if we don't manage to do that it would be disappointing. But if someone said to me 'you can win the Uefa Cup', then I'd settle for that," he said.

While Leeds prepare to save their season, Seth Johnson is doing the same – with the help of an oxygen chamber.

Johnson has been injured since the end of last month after tearing a thigh muscle during the 2-0 defeat by Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. It was the latest in a series of injuries for the £9m midfielder who has been plagued with problems since moving to Elland Road from Derby in October.

There is hope that with the aid of the chamber, which circulates oxygen and is more commonly used to help deep sea divers overcome the bends, Johnson will make his return to the squad quicker than was initially expected.

It is a device which has been used to great effect in the past by other sports people, and Johnson is certainly feeling the benefit.

"It really has helped me quite a lot. The injury has improved and it is the oxygen chamber which is helping," Johnson confirmed.

No date has been set for his comeback, although it is likely to be another month at least. O'Leary said: "I think it will be quite a while before we see Seth. He has a bad injury but the oxygen treatment is certainly working well."

Jonathan Woodgate, who tore his hamstring in the same match at Chelsea, is also on the mend but by more conventional means.

Woodgate, who had been in superb form prior to his injury, is likely to be back in action within the next few weeks. "Jon is back jogging again. It has been three weeks since he picked up the injury and he is progressing well, but how long it will be before he returns, I don't know. We just have to take it a day at a time," O'Leary said.