Marcelo Bielsa will be hoping for a couple of new additions come January and we’re on the brink of being able to make signings. Will we? Historically Leeds struggle to make any steps forward in January, on and off the pitch to be honest, but what does Bielsa have to work with on day one of 2019?
Not much in terms of rotating players anyway. Leeds have basically used under 23 players from the bench in recent times and certainly to fill the seven substitutes for nearly a month now. Liam Cooper, Stuart Dallas, Gaetano Berardi, Izzy Brown and Patrick Bamford are all still injured and we were short before they picked up those various injuries. Bamford is the one we expect to return first and even then he isn’t expected to be fit for the trip to Nottingham Forest. It’s clear some of the players need a rest but the options to come in are so limited in key areas many will be playing another full 90 minutes.
At the back there are very little in the way of manoeuvres Bielsa could make. Jamie Shackleton is certainly one. The youngster could fill in for Luke Ayling at right-back or indeed play central midfield, the latter probably not even in the thinking of Bielsa. If Shackleton did move in at right-back Ayling could even move to centre-back and allow Phillips back into central midfield, maybe Mateusz Klich resting if Bielsa feels that could benefit him. Leif Davis impressed at Aston Villa but Barry Douglas should be feeling better than most after sitting out that game.
Into the midfield and the options are still very limited. Lewis Baker should be pushing for starts but rarely impresses when he gets chances, this period would have been ideal for him to step up but quite simply he hasn’t taken chances beforehand. Jack Clarke isn’t deemed ready for starts yet but this could be his chance, if not at Forest certainly against Queens Park Rangers at the weekend in the cup. The final option is probably Tyler Roberts, but that’s more likely at Queens Park Rangers as well. The striker has only recently returned from injury himself.