As the unfortunate news came yesterday that Leeds will be without the services of Liam Cooper and Jamie Shackleton for the game against Milwall, Leeds must make a somewhat dramatic adjustment to their usual line up. This is in extension to the absence of Pablo Hernandez and Adam Forshaw, two players instrumental to Leeds’ midfield rhythm and attack.
Here are the two most realistic remedies to the selection headache Bielsa faces:
Berardi CB, Dallas RB, Klich CM, Roberts CAM
This is the solution that seems most sensible, in the sense of keeping players in their more natural positions. However, this solution mostly hangs on whether Bielsa thinks Tyler Roberts is able to start from the beginning or this would be a tactic better utilised if Leeds were left chasing. More on this tactic is covered here.
Berardi CB, Ayling RB, Dallas CM, Klich CAM
This appears to be slightly more conventional but was one of the solutions suggested by Bielsa in today’s press conference. It would mean a first league start for Luke Ayling who has been recovering from injury up until now. Further, it involves playing Stuart Dallas in a central midfield role. This would be new ground for Dallas, who has so far played at left-back, left midfield, right back and right midfield for Leeds. Perhaps Bielsa sees such utility in him and a utility to the way in which Leeds play that he feels as if his position is inconsequential and he can have a similar impact on the pitch wherever he plays.
…Only time will tell!
These solutions presume an unchanged starting line-up elsewhere, of course. Kiko Casilla, Gjanni Alioski, Ben White, Kalvin Phillips, Helder Costa, Jack Harrison and Patrick Bamford being the mainstays of the side.