Appleton fearing no Leeds injury returns

David Norris hasn't played since being sent off against West Ham on January 14
David Norris hasn't played since being sent off against West Ham on January 14
Brett Pitman has been ruled out for three weeks with a hamstring injury

Jackett: Pompey still pose threat without Pitman

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Michael Appleton fears none of his walking wounded will be back for Pompey’s crunch clash at Leeds on Saturday.

The Blues boss had six players missing through injury for last weekend’s trip to Barnsley.

It meant he could name only three substitutes for the 2-0 Oakwell defeat.

The outlook continues to be bleak for Appleton, who doesn’t believe that crippling casualty list will ease ahead of Leeds’ Fratton Park visit.

Luke Varney (knee), Liam Lawrence (calf), David Norris (double hernia) and Kelvin Etuhu (hamstring) are all definitely out, with Lawrence revealing last night at The News’ Sports Awards that he is targeting a return against Middlesbrough on March 3.

Meanwhile, Kanu (back) and Greg Halford (knee) are struggling for fitness.

In addition, Dave Kitson will be absent as he serves a one-match ban following his sending off at Barnsley.

And Appleton doesn’t hold much hope of the situation improving.

He said: ‘As it is, I don’t think any of them will be back for Leeds.

‘The closest we’d possibly get would be Greg – and he failed a fitness test on Saturday.

‘He has a knee ligament injury and as soon as he opens his foot up and looks to pass the ball he is still feeling it slightly.

‘We are getting somewhere with him and he is not in as much pain as he was in previous weeks. But he is not going to be ready for next weekend.

‘Luke (Varney) is injured. Some of the rumours going round (about his absence), I have never heard such complete tripe in my life.

‘He has a medial knee ligament injury. Anyone who has had that type of injury knows how sore they can be at times.

‘As for Liam, believe it or not, someone rang the football club after they had seen my press conference (on Thursday).

‘They said they would do his scan for nothing, until we are in a position where we can pay for it. We were able to get him scanned on Friday night.’

Joel Ward also sparked an injury scare against the Tykes following a challenge by Andy Gray shortly before half-time.

It was a challenge which left a gash on his leg, requiring stitches. But the youngster carried on playing, much to the pleasure of his manager.

Appleton added: ‘Joel has a gash on his leg which needs a stitch.

‘He would possibly have gone off but we were in a position where we had to ask him to carry on – and I thought he equipped himself quite well, to be fair.

‘We had no other options. We had Benji there but couldn’t ask him to do a shift on the right-hand side when he has not played much over the last couple of months.

‘It would also have been harsh to throw young Adam (Webster) into such a situation.

‘We have a few people carrying knocks in terms of Tal (Ben Haim) and Ricardo (Rocha).

‘Aaron Mokoena’s hamstring is also a bit sore.

‘We’ll just look how we are during the week.’