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“He’s been missed” – Phil Hay delivers verdict on Leeds’ goalscoring problem

Leeds United are desperately missing striker Rodrigo and the goal output he can provide, says The Athletic’s Phil Hay.

Hay’s comments are reflective of the general feeling surrounding the way Leeds play at present: they have tightened up defensively but are now struggling with end product going forward.

This is perhaps to be expected considering that the Whites’ top scorer this season – Rodrigo – has been injured with an ankle problem since their FA Cup fourth round victory over Accrington Stanley in late January.

The Spaniard had previously been enjoying his best season since arriving at Elland Road from Valencia in 2020, netting 10 times in 18 Premier League appearances.

Leeds’ difficulty to score goals in Rodrigo’s absence is best summed up by the fact that they have only managed 3 goals in 5 Premier League matches since his injury.

Since Javi Gracia was appointed as successor to Jesse Marsch, the Whites have only managed to score once in a crucial 1-0 home win against Southampton. Considering that their combined xG for Gracia’s three games in charge sits at 3.2, Gracia’s side are clearly underperforming.

For Hay, the cause for this sits with Rodrigo’s injury, as well as the fact that a reliable back-up to the ex-Valencia man doesn’t exist at the club currently.

“He’s been missed, without a doubt. And it’s beginning to look more like his appearance at Accrington was a risk that didn’t need to be taken, but I do accept that’s an easy stick to beat a head coach with,” Hay said on The Phil Hay Show podcast.

“I look at Georginio Rutter and I think there’s definite talent there, there’s a definite player there. But he is going through a teething process at the moment, he’s moved from league to league, he’s young. Goals aren’t flowing for him.

Since he [Bamford] was scoring in that first Premier League season in 2021 they just haven’t had an uber-reliable number 9, have they? An uber-reliable centre-forward.”

Gracia will no doubt be hoping he can get his other attacking players firing ahead of the weekend, with in-form Brighton set to travel to Elland Road in what promises to be another tense contest.

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