By Will Butcher

Eunan O’Kane has labelled the groin injury that has made him a doubt for Saturday’s clash against Aston Villa as “excruciating”.

The 26-year-old midfielder picked up the problem while on international duty for Ireland, and revealed that the pain is one of the main barriers preventing him from returning to fitness.

The five-time Ireland international was withdrawn from proceedings at Anfield in the first half during Leeds 2-0 EFL Cup quarter-final loss to Liverpool, and is now a doubt to take part against Aston Villa on Saturday.

Speaking to BBC Radio Leeds, O’Kane revealed that he has not been able to train regularly as he looks to recover from the muscle problem.

“I hope I’ll be fit to play against Aston Villa. It’s been an ongoing thing where we have been trying to cover me up and get me ready to play on Saturday.

“Since I came back from the international break I haven’t been able to train much.The resulting fluid from the injury sometimes finds it’s way to the nerves in my groin which is excruciating, but it’s one of those things.”

Since his summer move from Bournemouth, O’Kane has been one of the first names on Garry monk’s team sheet this season as captain Liam Bridcutt continues to recover from a foot injury.

O’Kane, who began his career at Everton before moving to Torquay United, has made 14 league and cup appearances for the Yorkshire giants after signing a two-year deal in the summer.

With or without the midfield star, Leeds will be looking to gain three points against Steve Bruce’s Villa as they aim to consolidate their place in the Championship playoffs.

Football Insider verdict:

Leeds should rest their midfield star, rather than risk aggravating the injury further ahead of the busy Christmas period. With plenty of depth in the midfield area, Monk can call on the likes of Ronaldo Vieira and Kalvin Phillips while Luke Murphy and Toumani Diagouraga could also be used by the former Swansea boss as they continue to impress in Jason Blunt’s development side. O’Kane has been one of the integral parts of Leeds’ sparkling form that has seen them go from early relegation candidates to promotion hopefuls, and it is of vital importance that O’Kane makes a full recovery rather than risking a longer injury that could see him miss a large chunk of Leeds’ campaign.

In other Leeds news, this international star will be signed by Monk in January.