COMMENT By Will Butcher
Garry Monk must start Leeds winger Alfonso Pedraza against Preston on Saturday afternoon in order to claim three crucial points in their chase for promotion.
Pedraza, 20, was used as a substitute on Tuesday evening during the 2-0 loss to Brentford at Griffin Park, as Northern Ireland international Stuart Dallas started on the left.
But ahead of Saturday’s clash against Preston, here are three reasons why the on-loan Villarreal star should be handed his fifth Leeds start against Simon Grayson’s side.
Dallas and Doukara
Leeds other options on the left flank have failed to provide any form of consistency in their last handful of outings. Dallas was ineffective against his former side on Wednesday night, and was withdrawn on the hour mark for Pedraza. The Spaniard’s cameo role seemed to have more effect than Dallas’ hour-long efforts, and that should convince Monk to start the Spain Under-21’s international. Doukara has provided just one assist in his last 12 league games, and that should also see Pedraza given the nod above his competitors.
Battle with Baptiste
Preston are likely to start with Alex Baptiste at right-back, as Tyias Browning and Andy Boyle remain sidelined through injury. With Baptiste now 31 years of age, coming up against a player 11 years his junior is likely to frighten the Middlesbrough loanee. Pedraza, who possesses plenty of pace, will look to reach the byline and provide ammunition for top scorer Chris Wood and he should find success in doing so against Baptiste, who is not known for his speed. That could see Wood add to his 27 goals this season and boost Leeds’ position in the play-offs.
Pedraza needs Monk confidence
Giving Pedraza a route back into the first team is only going to benefit the youngster, who has shown in glimpses this season what he is really capable of. Coming off the bench at St. Andrews’ Stadium, the Spaniard found the bottom corner with a sublime left-footed drive during Leeds’ 3-1 away win and it is that kind of quality Monk must see on a more regular basis. With the knowledge that he is able to produce the goods, former Swansea boss Monk must give him the game time to prove to fans and staff alike that he can do it on the biggest stage, under pressure, with the play-offs looming.