Paul Heckingbottom may have no choice but to hand a debut to under 23’s captain Paudie O’Connor tomorrow and Leeds’ injury crisis continues to increase. An injury to Matthew Pennington on Tuesday leaves him doubtful for the game tomorrow, with Liam Cooper and Conor Shaughnessy already ruled out.
Luke Ayling is added to that list and it shows you the extent of the injury issues, especially in defence. The debate for Heckingbottom is probably this, does he stick with a player that he has started against Sheffield Wednesday in Tom Pearce and shift Gaetano Berardi into centre-back or does he throw Paudie O’Connor in and leave the full-backs where they are? Either way I can’t see Vurnon Anita making the cut, he seems like he’ll be on his way come the summer, Paul Heckingbottom making it very clear that some players will be on their way, the fact Anita is behind about four players at full-back tells the story.
O’Connor arrived from Limerick last season and is one of the only surviving members of the under 23 team from last season and he now captains the side. He has been training with the first-team along with Pearce, Ryan Edmondson and Jack Clarke, and he will certainly be on the bench tomorrow even if he doesn’t start. He’s a very good player at development level but the proof is in the pudding and at his age he should be stepping in and making a mark on the first-team if given the chance. He can play out from the back and can get tight when needed, an interesting dilemma for Heckingbottom tomorrow.