David Prutton: Monk must start 25-year-old Leeds ace against QPR
By Harvey Byrne
David Prutton has claimed defender star Kyle Bartley must start against QPR on Saturday afternoon.
The 25-year-old Leeds ace is currently one yellow card away from a two-match suspension.
After this game the bookings will be extended to 15 for a suspension, leaving Bartley to see out the rest of the season, but he must still avoid a card in the weekend’s match at Elland Road.
Teammate Luke Ayling is currently in the same scenario and while Prutton believes Garry Monk can rest the right back, he feels that Bartley must start against Ian Holloway’s men.
“You’re often at the whim of officials, regardless of how hard you try, and that’s one reason why Garry might be tempted to use other players this weekend,” wrote Prutton his column for the Yorkshire Evening Post.
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“With Bartley, personally I don’t think it’s an option to leave him out. His partnership with Jansson is too good and in many ways it’s greater than the sum of its parts.
“When I watch Leeds, I don’t see too many big voices or personalities in the team but they get huge amounts of drive from two proper hairy-a***d centre-backs – and I mean that as a compliment. Break it up against QPR and you’re asking for trouble. That’s not a criticism of someone like Liam Cooper. It’s just a reflection of how vital the combination in central defence has been.
“Ayling is slightly different. First up, his daughter was born earlier this week and he’ll have had a tiring few days. But aside from that, Garry can play Gaetano Berardi at right-back and Charlie Taylor on the left without causing major disruption. Ayling has been one of the cornerstones of Garry’s team and the right-back position deserves to be his, but if Leeds are trying to avoid a situation where Ayling and Bartley both miss Brighton next weekend and Reading after the international break, this is probably the best way to do it.”
Prutton then further added at the end of his column: “He’s meticulous and most of what he does seems logical. In the world of fantasy football you can leave out key players and cross your fingers but this is the sharp end of the season and it’s not really the time to take gambles. I can see an argument for protecting Ayling, much as I rate him very highly, but Bartley has to start. A sudden loss of impetus is the only threat to Leeds now.”
Bartley joined Leeds in the summer on a season-long loan deal from Premier League outfit Swansea.
He has built up a very strong partnership at the back with Pontus Jansson and the two have been pivotal to helping the Yorkshire giants nestle in fourth place in the Championship table.
With 40 appearances to his name in all competitions this season fans will now be hoping Bartley can see out the full 90 minutes against QPR without picking up a booking.
In other Leeds news, Ian Holloway has claimed this emerging Whites sensation has blown him away.