El-Hadji Diouf not up to speed, admits Leeds United boss Brian McDermott

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: El-Hadji Diouf, right, has only made five appearances for Leeds this season El-Hadji Diouf, right, has only made five appearances for Leeds this season

El-Hadji Diouf remains part of Leeds boss Brian McDermott’s plans but the pair will hold talks in the new year to discuss the striker’s future.

Diouf has made only five appearances this season, which has failed to get going for the Senegal international after he returned from Africa with a shin infection in the summer.

The 32-year-old has since spent time back in Senegal for personal reasons. He was deeply affected by the death of former national coach Bruno Metsu, while the two-time African player of the year also attended Nelson Mandela’s funeral this week.

McDermott confirmed Diouf will not be included in the squad for Saturday's derby clash at Doncaster.

“That won’t happen,” McDermott said. “It’s a difficult one for Dioufy. He’s spent quite a lot of time away, travelling over to Senegal and has had a few things he needs to sort out personally as well.

“It’s been difficult for me to be able to give him an opportunity because, quite frankly, he’s not been around the training ground as much and it’s been a tough one for me.

“That’s where we’re at with him at the moment. I’m not saying there’s an issue. There isn’t. But training-wise with the group – he’s not done a lot and, to give himself a chance, he has to be training and be right up to speed.

“The circumstances are what they are, but, from a football point of view, you have to be in and around the training ground, you have to be up to speed.

“He’s got a few personal things that are happening as well and sometimes life is what it is and there are more important things than football that you have to take care of.”

Leeds are under orders to treat Saturday's derby like a home game.

While the Whites have been in impressive form at Elland Road, they have struggled on the road with five away defeats.

Ahead of the short trip to the Keepmoat Stadium, assistant boss Nigel Gibbs has insisted that indifferent record has got to change.

He said: “We still need to improve our away form and get some results.

“In the last eight results we are second in the form guide. If we can improve the away form, we’ll be pushing for the top six and that’s what we want to do.

“We need to start with the same mentality that we do at Elland Road and take the game to the opposition a little more than we have done.”

Leeds have already been to Doncaster this season and won 3-1 in the Capital One Cup second round in August. Around 5,000 away fans are expected at the Keepmoat – but Rovers midfielder Richie Wellens believes that can lift the hosts.

He said: “If you look at our results this season, we’ve beaten Leicester and QPR and probably should have beaten Nottingham Forest. In all those games the away team has brought a lot of fans.

“It doesn’t matter how many fans you bring. You’ve got to play the team on the pitch.

“Leeds are arguably in even better form than ourselves though and we know we’re in for a tough afternoon.”

McDermott will run late checks on Scott Wootton (ankle) and Tom Lees (knee). Both missed last week’s 3-3 draw with Watford.

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