By Wayne Veysey

12th Apr, 2017 | 12:37pm

Monk: Leeds first team pair struggling to be fit for clash against Newcastle

By Harry Sykes

Liam Bridcutt and Hadi Sacko are in race-against-time bids to be passed fit for Leeds’ Championship clash against Newcastle on Friday.

Garry Monk admitted at his media conference on Wednesday that the availability of the pair is in doubt after they were absent from the team that beat Preston 3-0 last Saturday .

Skipper Bridcutt missed out due to an achilles injury, while winger Sacko as sidelined with the ankle problem that has troubled him in recent weeks.

Manager Monk delivered an update on their fitness to the official Leeds Twitter account by saying he was “hopeful” the key pair could return for the clash at St James’ Park, although he stopped short of saying they were likely to be in the squad.

Sacko, who has missed the Yorkshire giants’ last two games, is suffering from bruising and swelling on his ankle.

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Bridcutt initially sustained an achilles problem in the 1-0 defeat at Reading 11 days ago and subsequently played through the pain barrier in the defeat at Brentford last week but was forced to pull out of the home clash against Preston.

Monk paired academy products Ronaldo Vieira and Kalvin Phillips in central midfield, and the duo helped Leeds control the game as goals from Kemar Roofe, Pablo Hernandez and substitute Souleymane Doukara secured the points.

Bridcutt has been a virtual ever-present in the Leeds team since returning in December after three months on the sidelines with a foot injury.

He had started seven consecutive matches before he was forced out of Saturday’s triumph, as Leeds got their promotion bid back on track.

Sacko has made a major impact at Elland Road since joining on a season-long loan from Sporting Lisbon last summer.

The 22-year-old has scored two goals and supplied four assists from 38 matches in all competitions for Leeds, which have included starts in 28 of the team’s 41 league encounters.

Newcastle are close to securing an instant return to the Premier League but have dropped to second in the table behind Brighton following their defeat to Sheffield Wednesday last weekend.

Leeds are well placed to secure a place in the end of season play-off positions, after they cemented their place in fifth following their victory against Preston.

Garry Monk’s side have 72 points with five matches of their league campaign remaining, 12 adrift of Newcastle.

In other Leeds transfer news, the club have sealed an out-of-window midfielder transfer.

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