Eddie Gray predicts Leeds trio will return against Forest if they're fit

A general view of Elland Road Stadium prior to the Sky Bet Championship match between Leeds United and Brighton & Hove Albion at Elland Road on October 17, 2015 in Leeds, England.

Leeds United go into 2018 off the back of a defeat to the Championship's bottom club.

Britt Assombalonga of Middlesbrough holds off a challenge from Ronaldo Vieira of Leeds United during the Sky Bet Championship match between Leeds United and Middlesbrough at Elland Road on...

Eddie Gray has told LUTV that if they are ready, he is expecting Ronaldo Vieira, Eunan O'Kane and Samuel Saiz to return to the Leeds lineup for their New Year's Day clash with Nottingham Forest after they were all missing for the weekend.

The trio were all absent from the Whites' starting lineup for their fixture with the division's bottom side Birmingham City on Saturday, with Saiz coming off the bench for the latter stages of the game, while the midfield pair were not involved at all.

Tom Lawrence of Derby County battles for the ball with Eunan O'Kane of Leeds United during the Sky Bet Championship match between Leeds United and Derby County at Elland Road on October 31,...

The trio's absence appeared to hurt the team as the Blues ended their long wait for a win as a second-half goal gave them a 1-0 victory in a game where it was generally accepted that Leeds deserved nothing.

And after the disappointing performance, Gray predicted that Monday's game with Forest will see Thomas Christiansen bring all three back into the starting lineup if they are available.

Leeds Samuel Saiz (L) holds off the challenge from Brentford's Ryan Woods during the Sky Bet Championship match between Brentford and Leeds United at Griffin Park on November 4, 2017 in...

"Thomas didn't give too much away, but I just hope that maybe, he's thinking if he'd played Vieira or O'Kane today, they might have set them back for three or four weeks, so don't take that chance even if they lose the game today, win the game against Nottingham Forest, they might be ready for that," he told LUTV after the defeat.

"I think if those two players are ready, they'll play on Monday, and Saiz will play."

It would certainly be no surprise if Saiz returns to the starting lineup. He often looks to be Leeds' most dangerous player and the fact that he did come on for the latter stages against the Blues certainly suggests that he will be ready to start against Forest - who are without a permanent manager after sacking Mark Warburton on Sunday.

Meanwhile, it would also cause little shock if there was a change in midfield, with Conor Shaughnessy and Kalvin Phillips enduring a difficult afternoon at St Andrew's. And a number of Leeds fans will surely be hoping that O'Kane and Vieira both hand Christiansen a fitness boost by being ready for the game that will see the Whites look to get back to winning ways.

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