Leeds United kick-off their pre-season campaign tonight (Thursday 7 July) when they take on Championship outfit Blackpool at York’s LNER Community Stadium.
Announced just nine days ago, the match gives manager Jesse Marsch a look at his how is squad is shaping up before they head down under for their pre-season tour of Australia.
In an expected sell-out in North Yorkshire, Whites fans will be keen to take a look at their new signings after a busy transfer window of incomings so far, however, it’s likely they will see only one new face in action.
Due to internationals and the timing of their signings, Spanish midfielder Marc Roca, who signed from Bayern Munich for a reported £11 million, is the only fresh acquisition to have done a full pre-season to date.
In fact, all internationals in Marsch’s squad arrived back on Monday, with goalkeeper’s Illan Meslier and Kristopher Klaesson the only ones to have returned at the start of this week who are set to feature against the Seasiders.
Due to limited options for this game in defence, Cody Drameh, Robin Koch, Pascal Struijk and Junior Firpo are likely to make up the back four with Roca to be one of two holding midfielders.
It’s likely to be either Adam Forshaw or Lewis Bate to partner him, however, due to Forshaw’s injury layoff and the fact he wasn’t seen at the start of pre-season training, former Chelsea man Bate should get a deserved opportunity to showcase his talents again.
Jack Harrison and Crysencio Summerville look set for the wide spots for this fixture, while Sam Greenwood and Joe Gelhardt could continue up front having finished the season in fine form to help Leeds survive.
There is also a chance Patrick Bamford could start up top after returning from injury, but we reckon Gelhardt will retain his place as a reward for how he finished the season.
GK: Kristoffer Klaesson
RB: Cody Drameh
CB: Robin Koch
CB: Pascal Struijk
LB: Junior Firpo
CM: Marc Roca
CM: Lewis Bate
RM: Crysencio Summerville
LM: Jack Harrison
CAM: Sam Greenwood
ST: Joe Gelhardt
It feels like a fresh start for the club and the fans attending Thursday night’s game will be excited to see new faces, returning faces and a crop of young players who will be eager to prove themselves.
Blackpool will provide solid opposition, but this match will be all about Jesse Marsch seeing where each of his player’s are at fitness wise, while also seeing how some of those untested at a higher level deal with a match situation in front of a decent crowd.
The system is also another interesting side note, with the 4-2-3-1 and 4-2-2-2 likely to be the formations used as the American boss tries to work out who fits into his style of play and plans going forward.
Lastly, for the fans, it will be nice to watch a Leeds game with the pressure off. Given how last season ended and the strain it put upon the players and the fanbase, it’s just going to be nice for everyone to watch with a smile, knowing the result doesn’t hold much importance in the grand scheme of things.
But saying that, we still want to see a performance and if that’s there, the result will likely come with it.