By Alex Stevens
Leeds will secure a notable win on Tuesday if Garry Monk summons Toumani Diagouraga from the stiffs and pitches him into the starting XI against Reading.
Bodies are thin on the ground as Monk weighs up his central midfield options against Jaap Stam’s third-placed outfit.
Liam Bridcutt is not match fit after three months on the sidelines, Eunan O’Kane is in a race against time bid to recover from a groin injury and Kalvin Phillips is serving a one-match suspension.
That leaves only Ronaldo Vieira, 18, as the only member of the first-choice cental midfield quartet definitely available to start in the two key positions at Elland Road on Tuesday.
With Matt Grimes appearing to be inadequate at Championship level in that position, Monk needs to bring Diagouraga in from the cold, where he has been passing time with the Under-23s alongside fellow discard Luke Murphy.
The January signing from Brentford has played just 90 minutes of first-team action this season after being frozen out since the opening-day defeat to QPR.
But needs must and Monk’s safest option against Stam’s settled side is someone experienced and proven in the midfield battleground.
Monk should otherwise stick with the players who have been integral to the side’s climb into the play-off positions, despite Friday night’s defeat at Brighton.
The manager should keep faith with Hadi Sacko as he offers pace and the ability to beat an opponent, while Souleymane Doukara deserves to once again keep out Stuart Dallas.
Roofe is set to remain in the playmaker role in the continued absence of Pablo Hernandez, and could be the man to unlock the Reading defence.
At the back, manager Garry Monk is almost certain to stick with his regular back five if Pontus Jansson shows no ill effects from Brighton after leaving the pitch late on.
Making just one change would provide Monk with a solid base and a starting XI to overcome Reading and kickstart Leeds’ promotion charge.