As Wednesday’s EFL Cup clash against Wolves approaches, speculation abounds concerning the squad Leeds United manager Jesse Marsch will take to Molineux.
For Marsch, a dilemma: does he attempt to maintain momentum by fielding the same team which has won its last two Premier League matches, or risk giving minutes to younger players to see how they cope at a more senior level?
With young right-back Cody Drameh featuring for Leeds U21s against Newcastle U21s yesterday it is highly unlikely he will start, with the spot likely to be granted to either Rasmus Kristensen or his backup, Luke Ayling.
As far as the remainder of the defence is concerned I see it as remaining relatively unchanged from Saturday’s game against Bournemouth, unless Marsch decides to start left-back Junior Firpo, either dropping Pascal Struijk entirely or sliding him across to play in his favoured position of centre-back. This would mean benching either Robin Koch or club captain Liam Cooper however, which I personally cannot see happening.
Midfielder Darko Gyabi missed his only match of the U21s season campaign against Newcastle yesterday, which gives the impression that Marsch may be considering starting him against Wolves.
As Tyler Adams seems to be winning over fans with his imperious performances as an enforcer in midfield, it is more likely that it will be the player alongside him – Marc Roca – who gives way. A combination of Adams’ strong presence in the holding role and Gyabi’s technicality when on the ball should give Wolves problems.
Mateusz Klich, who starred and scored two goals in the 3-1 victory over Barnsley last round, is also worthy of consideration for either position, and may even replace Aaronson further up the pitch if Marsch chooses not to play him in a deeper role.
Despite a muted performance against Bournemouth at the weekend I can see Jack Harrison retaining his place in the side alongside American international Brendan Aaronson – the energy of both players may prove critical in breaking down a stubborn Wolves defence.
Crysencio Summerville is the man in form at the moment having scored three in his last three appearances, but Marsch may opt to rest him in order to ensure he is fully fit for when Leeds face Tottenham on Saturday. If he chooses to do so, Sam Greenwood – who also impressed against Bournemouth at the weekend – will most likely replace him.
As for who leads the line, it all depends on how Marsch reacts to Rodrigo’s petulant display off the pitch when he was substituted last Saturday. He may wish to make an example of his preferred number nine by dropping him, replacing him with either Joe Gelhardt or even Mateo Joseph, the latter of which remains untested at a more senior level.
Given that Gelhardt started against Barnsley it is likely Marsch was already strongly considering replacing Rodrigo with a more youthful figure against Wolves, although Rodrigo’s behaviour when taken off may have made his mind up for him.
Predicted Leeds Starting XI: Meslier, Struijk, Cooper, Koch, Ayling, Adams, Gyabi, Greenwood, Aaronson, Harrison, Gelhardt