By Will Butcher
Garry Monk should risk Pablo Hernandez to maintain Leeds’ promotion hopes against Brentford on Saturday.
The 31-year-old returned to training this week after three weeks on the sidelines with a hamstring problem.
Although not fully recovered from the muscle injury, former Swansea boss Monk should start Hernandez and drop Northern Ireland international Stuart Dallas.
Captain Liam Bridcutt should also come into the side to replace target man Chris Wood, who is out with another hamstring injury.
The former Sunderland midfielder made his comeback from a broken foot against Reading on Tuesday, after three months out of the Leeds side.
Hernandez would orchestrate Leeds attacking play in between midfield and attack, offering a precision and incisiveness about the Yorkshire giants’ forward play.
His presence in the number 10 role would push in-form attacker Kemar Roofe out to the left wing in place of Dallas, as he likes to cut in on his right foot and look to bend the ball into the far corner.
In a formation change from Tuesday night, Monk must revert to his preferred 4-2-3-1 system to give Leeds a more solid outlook against a side who have won their last two games.
Scotland international Bridcutt should start alongside teenage ace Ronaldo Vieira, despite Kalvin Phillips returning from suspension. Former Benfica youth player Vieira has shown both desire and passion in recent outings and should be rewarded for his efforts.
The defence remains the same for the fourth Championship fixture in a row, as Monk begins to implement a defensive consistency to his side.
Three goals in eight games will give Souleymane Doukara the chance to start up front in the absence of Wood, despite Marcus Antonsson expecting to return on Saturday from a back spasm.
Eunan O’Kane and Lewie Coyle remain Leeds’ other casualties, as Monk looks to utilise the depth in his squad during the busy Christmas period.
Three points at Elland Road against Dean Smith’s Bees could see Leeds rise to third place in the Championship table, if Huddersfield and Reading fail to pick up points.