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Leeds United's relegation rivals suffer injury blow ahead of crucial Tottenham clash

By David Flett

The chances of Leeds United's relegation rivals Burnley picking up three points at Tottenham on Sunday have been dealt a severe blow with the news that first-choice centre-backs James Tarkowski and Ben Mee are expected to be ruled out. Both have been described as doubtful against a home team who go into the game just one point behind Arsenal in the fight for the final Champions League qualifying spot.

Burnley's chances of keeping Harry Kane and Heung-Min Son at bay looked slim enough even with Tarkowski and Mee available. The deadly Spurs pair have rattled in 47 goals between them in all competitions this season with Kane contributing 25 and Son 22.

The former also bagged a brace in last night's 3-0 triumph over Arsenal with the latter joining the England captain on the scoresheet. Jesse Marsch's men, who are currently level on points with Burnley but have a vastly inferior goal difference and have played a game more, should know how the Clarets have fared in their noon kick-off when they take the Elland Road field at 2pm for their penultimate fixture of the campaign at home to Brighton.

Along with Tarkowski and Mee, striker Jay Rodriguez is also doubtful and long-term absentees Ashley Westwood, Matej Vydra and Johann Berg Gudmundsson will definitely play no part. Tarkowski limped off early in the second half during Saturday's 3-1 home defeat to Aston Villa and he has not trained with the group this week.

Fellow defender Mee has not featured in the last nine matches since March 1, while Rodriguez has not played in the last four games and, while both players have been back running in training this week, they are not expected to be ready to take on Spurs. Jack Cork has also had a back complaint but was able to train yesterday and is expected to be available this weekend.

Interim Burnley boss Mike Jackson remains hopeful that Tarkowski, Mee and Rodriguez could all still feature in the run-in with the Tottenham trip followed by a visit to Aston Villa on Thursday and a home meeting with Newcastle United on the final afternoon of the season. But, On his side's injury concerns, the ex-Preston and Bury defender said: "We are going to be waiting on a couple.

"Jack Cork has trained today, Tarky we are still waiting on, Jay Rod is out running and Ben Mee is out running. I wouldn't push or risk anybody if they were injured. If the players are right to play and fit enough then they will be up for selection."

Asked if Tarkowski and Mee would miss the final three games, Jackson added: "No, fingers crossed. That is what we want and hope. It is a day by day thing with injuries.

"Some lads respond quicker and heal quicker than others. We have a report from the doctor in the morning and they will give us an update and we will speak about it day by day.

"Tarky has been out doing some running today. It is about making the right decision for him and the rest of the group and what we think will be right on the day."

With Jackson having been named Premier League Manager of the Month for April yesterday, any superstitious Leeds supporters will also be hoping that award comes with its fabled curse. If Tottenham do beat Burnley and Leeds manage to defeat Brighton, meanwhile, then Marsch's men could have Premier League survival back in their own hands going into the final weekend, should the Clarets fail to take anything less than maximum points at Villa during their game in hand on Thursday.

Everton also remain within reach for Leeds but not if the Merseysiders pick up four points from their remaining three games, owing to a vastly superior goal difference for Frank Lampard's men. The Toffees have back-to-back home contests against Brentford and Crystal Palace coming up before wrapping up the season at Arsenal.

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