Leeds expected 4-2-3-1 v Fulham after reported double blow: 25-year-old in shock recall
By Alex Stevens
Garry Monk could make a raft of changes to the Leeds team that faces Fulham at Craven Cottage on Tuesday night.
Yorkshire Evening Post correspondent Phil Hay reported on his personal Twitter account over three hours before kick-off that senior pair Chris Wood and Luke Ayling were major doubts for the pivotal Championship showdown.
@T_Shoesy would stress that this is unconfirmed but suggestion Wood has a calf problem and Ayling’s wife has had their baby.
— Phil Hay (@PhilHayYEP) March 7, 2017
If the duo, who would have been nailed-on starters if available, do indeed miss out, manager Monk will have to reconfigure his starting XI and could even make five changes to the side that defeat Birmingham 3-1 on Friday night.
Fit-again Charlie Taylor, Ronaldo Vieira and attacking trio Kemar Roofe, Alfonso Pedraza and Marcus Antonsson could all come into the starting XI in place of Ayling, Wood and axed trio Eunan O’Kane, Souleymane Doukara and Stuart Dallas.
Doukara spearheaded the attack when leading scorer Wood was last unavailable for selection, but he did not entirely convince and appears better suited to a role on the left flank.
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Antonsson is a more natural line leader and, while it would be a major shock if he started given that he has not even made the matchday 18 for the last five matches, he has pedigree, is a clinical finisher and was pictured on the team coach headed to London on Monday afternoon.
If Ayling is unavailable, Taylor is likely to be recalled to the starting XI for the first time since sustaining an achilles problem on 17 December.
It would mean Gaetano Berardi switching across to his more natural right-back position, with the full-backs flanking centre-back locks Pontus Jansson and Kyle Bartley.
Vieira, rested against Birmingham, is in line to partner Liam Bridcutt in central midfield, playing in behind Spain international and playmaker-in-chief Pablo Hernandez.
Further forward, wing pair Roofe and Pedraza could start ahead of inconsistent pairing Dallas and Doukara.
Leeds head to Craven Cottage aiming to secure their third consecutive win and maintain their promotion charge.
Garry Monk’s side are positioned in fourth in the Championship with 64 points, eight ahead of seventh-placed Fulham, who have a game in hand on the Yorkshire giants.
In other Leeds team news, the club are to pounce and re-sign a 23-year-old after a £10million transfer is all but sealed.