Three ways Leeds can solve Monk selection headache for Birmingham clash
COMMENT By Will Butcher
Garry Monk has been left with a selection headache ahead of Leeds’ Championship clash against Birmingham on Friday night.
Last season’s player of the year Charlie Taylor is set to return following two months on the sidelines after recovering from an achilles injury, and could start if deemed fit enough.
However, one-time Switzerland international Gaetano Berardi has been superb at left-back and that could see him earn a chance to stake his claim as Monk’s first choice on the left side of defence.
If Taylor is fit enough to start from the off, here are three options Monk could use to include both Berardi and Taylor in his starting line-up against Birmingham.
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With in-form defender Luke Ayling offering Monk the option of being able to play at either right-back or in the middle of defence, Leeds could revert to a 3-5-2 system that would see Berardi move over to his stronger side of in a right wing-back role. Former Bristol City star Ayling would partner normal central defensive duo Kyle Bartley and Pontus Jansson, while Berardi and Taylor would provide Leeds’ width as wing backs. In what would be a very defensive looking side, Monk may opt to use five defenders as Birmingham have won two out of their last three games at St. Andrews’ Stadium.
Taylor and Berardi team up
Known for his willingness to attack, academy product Taylor could be used as a makeshift winger in front of former Sampdoria full-back Berardi. Taylor possess the natural attributes of a wide man, showing pace and confidence to beat an opponent this season on the left flank. Providing three assists this season, Leeds’ number 21 is known for his crossing ability and could provide a cross for goal machine Chris Wood to continue his wonderful goalscoring form as Leeds look to earn their 20th Championship win of the season.
In what would seem far more unlikely, Monk could use his normal system of 4-2-3-1 and drop former Arsenal youth player Ayling to make room for Berardi. Ayling has been in fantastic form this season since his £750,000 summer move from Bristol City, but Monk could be so keen to keep Berardi in the side that Ayling may be forced to watch from the bench against Zola’s men. However, if Berardi was ushered across to right-back in place of Ayling, Birmingham’s attacking wing-back Cheick Keita would come up against a much more defensive-minded player in Berardi and nullifying the Blues’ Malian speed merchant could be key to securing three points.