By Matt Farr
Leeds manager Garry Monk must make at least nine changes to his side for their upcoming clash with promotion rivals Derby on Friday.
Monk gave many of his regular first-team stars the night off against Cambridge in their FA Cup third round clash on Monday, but is expected to welcome them back in a crucial Championship test with their promotion rivals.
Therefore, Rob Green, Luke Ayling, Kyle Bartley, Liam Briductt, Eunan O’Kane, Kemar Roofe, Pablo Hernandez and Chris Wood should all be restored to the starting XI, as well as a rare start handed to Lewie Coyle in a reshuffled backline the absence of the suspended Pontus Jansson and injured Liam Cooper.
As a result, deputy stopper Marco Silvestri, Tyler Denton, Matt Grimes, Kalvin Phillips, Marcus Antonsson, Souleymane Doukara and Alex Mowatt will drop out in addition to Cooper, who is set to miss out with the injury sustained against Cambridge.
Gaetano Berardi and Stuart Dallas should retain their places.
Northern Ireland international Stuart Dallas deserves another opportunity to impress Garry Monk, after giving a decent account of himself against Cambridge.
He netted his first goal of the season in the 2-1 comeback victory over the League Two side.
Alex Mowatt, meanwhile, is also set to drop out as speculation grows over his long-term future at the club.
The 21-year-old is not one of Garry Monk’s preferred midfield options, and has fallen out of favour since starting the season as a regular. In Leeds’ last 10 league appearances, Mowatt has appeared just twice.
He gave an impressive display against Cambridge, claiming a goal and an assist, but is not likely to be handed a second start in as many games given the importance of the meeting with Derby.
Concerns over the fitness of duo Charlie Taylor, meanwhile, sees him miss out on the starting XI, but he could get a run-out off the substitutes bench. He missed the last four games with injury.
Eunan O’Kane, on the other hand, does make the cut, earning his place back in the midfield following an injury setback of his own.
Victory would send Leeds up to third for at least 24 hours, as promotion rivals Huddersfield and Reading don’t feature until Saturday. It would also extend their impressive streak to six league games unbeaten.
A defeat, on the other hand, would not knock Leeds off their stride in the play-offs, but would reduce Derby’s deficit to just two points behind them.
In other Leeds team news, Monk has provided this update on Liam Cooper’s fitness ahead of the clash.