Leeds United boss Thomas Christiansen looks set to make wholesale changes ahead of his first competitive game at Elland Road on Wednesday night, when the Whites host Port Vale in the Carabao Cup.
The Yorkshire side suffered two further injury blows during their 3-2 win over newly-promoted Bolton Wanderers on Sunday in the Championship opener, with Matthew Pennington picking up an ankle problem and Gaetano Berardi dislocating his shoulder.
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The missing duo simply add to the stress already on the club’s back-line, with regular Pontus Jansson also missing as the 26-year-old serves the final game of his suspension.
The likelihood therefore of a patched-up defence ahead of Wednesday’s clash seems extremely high, with only one natural centre-back available being Liam Cooper, who will be expected to retain the captain’s armband after Leeds’ victory last time out.
The Scotland international will most likely be joined by Conor Shaughnessy for the visit of Port Vale, with the Irishman chosen by Christiansen to plug the gap left by the injured Pennington at the Macron Stadium on Sunday.
The rest of the defence could feature new signing Cameron Borthwick-Jackson after the youngster’s season-long loan move from Manchester United was confirmed earlier this week.
The timing of the transfer could not be more imperative for the Whites, with left-back Berardi now seemingly unavailable for some time.
Summer signing Vurnon Anita will therefore contest with Luke Ayling for the final spot in the back-line, a battle in which the former Newcastle United man will most likely come out on top in.
Former Germany Under-20 international Felix Wiedwald was selected for the season opener in goal, so with heavy rotation expected it is probable to see the return of custodian Robert Green to the Yorkshire side’s line-up.
United’s midfield seems to be a completely different story to their defence however, with the Championship outfit boasting an abundance of talent.
But the omission of club captain Liam Bridcutt during the entertaining win on Sunday shocked many, so it would come as no surprise to see the Elland Road fan favourite get some minutes on the pitch in a game which Leeds would be expected to come through unscathed.
In attack a similar mindset will most likely be taken by Christiansen, allowing key players to rest ahead of this weekend’s clash with Preston North End.
Star man Chris Wood will be expected to start out on the bench, and the Danish manager will be hoping he does not need to call on his talisman at any point in order to clinch passage through to the second round.
As such, Caleb Ekuban could get the nod to play, while Samu Saiz may well get his first competitive start also.
Leeds will not be the only side heavily changed from the opening fixtures of the Championship, and even with a mainly second-string XI the Yorkshire club should have enough firepower to easily overcome League One Port Vale on Wednesday night.
Leeds Predicted Starting XI (4-2-3-1): Green; Borthwick-Jackson, Cooper, Shaughnessy, Anita; Vieira, Bridcutt; Dallas, Sacko, Saiz; Ekuban.