COMMENT By Will Butcher
Garry Monk has been left thin at the back ahead of Leeds’ highly-anticipated Championship clash against Derby on Friday night.
Pontus Jansson picked up his 10th yellow card of the season on Monday night in the 2-1 FA Cup win against Cambridge, which sees him ruled out for two matches with an automatic ban.
Later on in the match, defender Liam Cooper picked up a knock that saw him leave on crutches and is now a doubt to face Steve McClaren’s Rams.
If Cooper is unable to return in time, Monk will be left with Kyle Bartley as Leeds’ only recognised centre-back.
Football Insider analyses three options Monk could opt to use against Derby in what would be a makeshift defence.
Midfiielder handed second chance
Powerful midfielder Toumani Diagouraga could be handed a return to the Leeds first team for the first time since his dismal performance in the Yorkshire giants’ opening game of the season, which saw Monk’s side lose 3-0 to QPR. Possessing both strength and a willingness to put his body on the line, the Frenchman has been known to fill in at centre-back and could be brought back into the side to cover Monk’s defensive crisis. However, it is unlikely that Monk will go back on his decision to banish the former Brentford ace from his first team.
A change in system could see Monk decide to play three at the back, with Luke Ayling and Gaetano Berardi lining up on either side of on-loan defender Bartley. In what would most likely be a 3-4-3, Stuart Dallas and Lewie Coyle would be brought in to play as wing-backs. Northern Ireland international Dallas is hard working and has played as a wing-back for his country, while academy product Coyle is known for his ability to get forward from his normal position of right-back.
Summer signing versatility
Signed from Bristol City for £750,000 in the summer, Ayling has shone on the right side of defence for Leeds. The former Arsenal youth player is also available to play in the middle of defence, and did so against Liverpool in the EFL Cup. Coming into the central defence alongside Bartley, youngster Coyle would start at right-back for Leeds while one-time Switzerland international Berardi would start at left-back against McClaren’s side.
In other Leeds news, this key duo are facing a race against time to be fit to face Derby.