COMMENT By Will Butcher

Liam Bridcutt should be handed his first Leeds start since recovering from a broken foot against Preston on Boxing Day.

The midfield enforcer, 27, has failed to feature from the off since suffering the injury in the EFL Cup against Blackburn back in September, in which Leeds won 1-0.

But after substitute appearances against Reading and Brentford, Bridcutt should be considered from the off by manager Garry Monk as he looks to make the final step in his recovery.

His ability to screen the back four as a marshal between the defence and midfield will prove vital in Monk’s side against Preston, as all three points could see Leeds go third in the Championship table.

Currently occupying those slots are youngsters Kalvin Phillips and Ronaldo Vieira, while Ireland international Eunan O’Kane remains on the sidelines with a groin problem.

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Despite their impressive performances in the middle of the park, both players have shown an inexperience in their play this season. Scotland international Bridcutt’s presence would give a sturdier, more reliable outlook to Leeds.

With Preston defying pre-season expectations of a relegation battle by sitting in the top half of the table, Leeds will be in for a battle in two days’ time.

Losing just once in seven games, Grayson’s Lilywhites have only failed to score twice in their last 16 league and cup matches and a reliable, robust defence must be Monk’s highest priority come Monday.

Former Chelsea youth player Bridcutt provides just that, which also gives license to the attacking players in the Leeds side to get forward without worrying about leaving their position.

In other Leeds news, Kyle Bartley and Kemar Roofe have both been omitted from Football Insider’s combined Preston and Leeds XI.