By Mark Smith

22nd Dec, 2019 | 7:30am

Phil Hay: This is what I've heard on Leeds' plans to strengthen midfield in January

Leeds United fans around the world will have been fearing the worst when Pablo Hernandez was forced off the field in the 2-1 defeat at Fulham on Saturday.

The Spanish magician was replaced after only a matter of minutes with a suspected hamstring injury, leaving the Whites searching for options in an area that isn’t exactly packed with them right now.

Hernandez has been moved more central this season, and his latest injury means he will join fellow midfielders Adam Forshaw, Jamie Shackleton, and even Tyler Roberts in the medical room – although the latter two are expected to return to action against Preston.

So, with three or four players struggling for fitness it seems this season, Leeds could look to the January transfer window to add a fresh face in the middle of the side.

The Athletic journalist Phil Hay pretty much put an end to those suggestions immediately after that defeat, despite it being clear that the Whites are lacking depth in midfield this season.

Writing in a Q&A on Saturday, Hay claimed that a midfielder isn’t on the radar of Victor Orta and his transfer team.

“It really doesn’t sound like it,” he wrote. “Not on the radar at all, or certainly wasn’t when I last asked about January,” Hay went on to add.

We can’t exactly say we’re surprised about this verdict, with Leeds already having one more loan player than is permitted in a matchday squad alongside the financial fair play rules that would prevent a big-money move in the winter.

Leeds have to be sensible with their outgoing cash right now after the move for Helder Costa in the summer, and that is just something we all might have to accept for now.

With Shackleton and Roberts set to return soon, Bielsa will feel like he has enough options to cover occasional injuries in the second half of the campaign.

It will most likely be Eddie Nketiah or Welsh international, Roberts who takes over from Hernandez against Preston – both having a real chance to cement their place in the side for the next month now.

In other Leeds United news, Angus Kinnear shares verdict on future of Leeds star after conversation with fan