Striker Chris Wood will be unavailable for Leeds' FA Cup tie against Premier League Watford on 20 February. The New Zealand captain's status for the fifth-round clash at Vicarage Road was already uncertain due to a persistent hamstring strain that initially kept him out of action for almost four weeks before resurfacing just 18 minutes into his comeback against Brentford last month.
Wood, signed from Leicester in July 2015, has missed Championship fixtures against Bolton, Nottingham Forest and Middlesbrough as a result of the latest setback, although his chances of facing Watford were rated at 50-50 earlier this week. Hopes of a return have now been permanently extinguished with Steve Evans revealing the 24-year-old was now suffering from a virus.
"Chris Wood won't make it for the weekend," the manager told reporters at his pre-match press conference. "I'm never one to sit there and give hope when there's not. He's just not quite right.
"We can't establish whether it's his hamstring because he's just got a little virus that gives you a problem top and bottom if people know what I mean by that. That would have ruled him out on its own. We'll need to pick up with him on Sunday to see where he is."
In more positive team news, Leeds could welcome back Gaetano Berardi for the trip to Watford. The Italian right-back had previously made 18 appearances in all competitions for the Championship outfit this term before being stretchered off with a painful ankle injury during the latter stages of a goalless draw at Charlton in December.
He returned to first-team training this week and Evans admits the player could feature as his side attempt to reach the quarter-finals of the FA Cup for the first time since 2003.
"Berardi's trained. He's trained very well so he could be an option for us in the event that we want to put him in."
On the prospect of facing Watford, he said: "It's a magical week, isn't it? The FA Cup week is always very special and I think we're taking on the second best success story of the Premier League this season, the first being not far down the road at Leicester.
"I think what's probably gone quietly unnoticed behind them is the success of Watford sitting in ninth position, completely strengthened since last season. Significantly so. We know how tough the task is going to be but the magic of the cup says we'll go there and we'll try and produce a performance to make sure that we come back out of Watford on Saturday evening still in the FA Cup."