COMMENT By Alex Stevens
For Luke Murphy and Toumani Diagouraga, the writing is not so much inked on the wall as etched in their blood across Thorp Arch.
The midfield duos’ Leeds careers are wheezing to an ignominious end after they were given the cold shoulder by Garry Monk in August.
They have continued to be frozen out in the subsequent four months, training with the kids and reduced to run-outs for the Under-23s.
Given the consistency of Monk’s stance, it is hard to believe they were not given the chance to find new employers in the final weeks of the summer window.
But deals could not be agreed and Murphy, 27, and Diagouraga, 29, were forced to settle for a humiliating existence of playing with and against rookies day in, day out.
Suddenly, there is a chance for them to come in from the cold and show lower league clubs that they are worth taking a punt on next month.
Monk is unable to call on midfield trio Kalvin Phillips, Eunan O’Kane and Pablo Hernandez for Leeds’ Championship showdown against Reading on Tuesday night and has said he has not made up his mind on whether to play Liam Bridcutt, who has just recovered after a three-month absence with a fractured foot.
For Murphy and Diagouraga, it is now or never.
A hint about Monk’s selection plans for Tuesday’s clash came in the shape of the Under-23s’ teamsheet for the 2-0 defeat to Sheffield Wednesday earlier in the day. For once, neither of the senior central midfield pair were in the squad.
If Murphy and Diagouraga do not get a chance when the squad is ravaged by injury and suspension in their position, they have little alternative but to order their agents to find them new clubs within weeks.