Leeds boss Jesse Marsch has recently appeared before the media ahead of his side’s visit to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Saturday. Read on for all of his press conference’ s key talking points.
Midfielder Archie Gray has suffered a setback in returning from injury, as a scan during his treatment revealed a “defect with his ankle” which forced Leeds medical staff into having him “shut down for six to eight weeks” due to his young age.
Adam Forshaw and Stuart Dallas continue to make progress in recovering from their respective injuries, with Marsch suggesting that if the Tottenham game fell three days later that Forshaw may have made the squad for the game.
Patrick Bamford remains sidelined after picking up a hip injury in training in the week before the Whites’ last Premier League game against Bournemouth.
Mateusz Klich is the newest addition to Leeds’ injury list after picking up a knee injury against Wolves on Wednesday, with Jack Harrison also a doubt after picking up a muscle injury.
The importance of belief
When asked about his side’s last two Premier League victories over Liverpool and Bournemouth and what it showed about the mental fortitude of his players, Marsch was quick to stress the importance of belief in winning football matches.
He said: “We’ve been talking a lot internally and now, I guess, externally about being winners.
“That in a lot of these matches that we’re right in the match and that the way that the games have gone that its often very even and we have to be more poised to capitalise on those situations and stay strong and stable.
“That’s what was good to see in both of those matches that we were able to capitalise and we looked in those matches like we were going to win.”
The impact of the World Cup
When asked about how the World Cup break would affect his squad Marsch emphasised the physical, but more importantly mental, benefits that such a significant gap in the season would produce.
Amid concerns that the upcoming competition in Qatar could potentially influence the extent to which those players in his squad fortunate enough to receive national call-ups would apply themselves in Saturday’s game, Marsch quickly rejected such ideas.
“They’ve been really sharp this week […] coming back [from Wolves] you could see the freshness in the group that had slept well and was ready for the match on Saturday.
“Training was really good and I expect them to push and be ready.”, Marsch said.
Gnonto or Greenwood to start?
Marsch claimed there was “a real possibility” young Italian international Wilfried Gnonto may start against Spurs if Harrison’s injury was severe enough to prevent him from playing.
He kept his options relatively open in this regard, however, claiming that such a decision is contingent upon how he chooses to set up his side at the weekend. If Gnonto was not to make the starting XI, Harrison’s place would most probably be occupied by Sam Greenwood.
Regardless of who is granted a starting place, Marsch claimed that “both played well” against Bournemouth at the weekend and – perhaps more importantly – “both will be ready” if their talents are called upon.
Thoughts on Tottenham as opponents
The American was complimentary when asked about his upcoming opponents, calling them “a quality squad” with “an incredible stadium and fanbase”.
He also suggested that the Spurs players may be suffering from match fatigue due to the intensity of their recent fixture schedule, but still views them as challenging opposition.
Marsch said: “Conte in general doesn’t always do a lot of rotation […] he’s known as one of the guys who keeps a closed environment […] this is his leadership style.
“Tottenham have had a lot of games.
“This is a big challenge once again against a top opponent in our league […] we are not perfect but we are also not afraid […] we are not afraid of top opponents.
“We are going to go after the game in every way.”
January transfer window
In a response that will slightly concern Leeds fans, Marsch remained tight-lipped when questioned on potential activity in the January transfer window following the World Cup.
“We’re smart enough to know that in order to achieve our goals we want to continue to look at every position and think about how we can move forward the right way.
“We also know that we have some young talented players that will continue to draw interest so [we are] trying to figure out how to keep those players, how long we can keep them, what can entice them to stay, and what that might mean to the pieces we need moving forward.
“I don’t want to talk specifically about positions. We talked enough about the striker position in the summer and I don’t think that’s gone away but I think we’ve been active”, Marsch concluded.