By George Overhill

29th Sep, 2022 | 6:10pm

Jesse Marsch could make wholesale changes to his Leeds United starting XI as the club finally return to Premier League action with the visit of Aston Villa.

After a controversial and event-filled 5-2 thrashing at Brentford in the last game, and a full 29 days to stew over it, the Whites manager gets a chance to put things right when Steven Gerrard’s ailing squad arrive at Elland Road on Sunday 2 October.

Aside from the long-term absentee Stuart Dallas the American should now have almost a full Leeds United squad to choose from according to Premier Injuries, and after the collapse in west London on 3 September he should take full advantage.

With the international break now out of the way without any damage, in contrast to his opposite number, Marsch should have captain Liam Cooper and left-back Junior Firpo at his disposal to make their first league appearances of the season.

Similarly, leading scorer Rodrigo could be back from the dislocated shoulder he suffered against Everton on 30 August.

The likes of Patrick Bamford and Luke Ayling made returns from injury off the bench in the previous game and have had four weeks longer to get back to full fitness as well.

Bamford shook off some of the rust that he demonstrated with his baffling miss against the Bees by netting a hat-trick for the under-21s in a 6-2 defeat on Southampton (16 September), in a game where Cooper and Firpo also started.

All three should start against Villa if they are now fully fit, as big work is needed at the back and a true number nine makes a big difference in attack.

Behind the striker Luis Sinisterra scored twice to help Colombia come back from two goals down to beat Mexico on Wednesday (28 September), also netting against Guatemala three days earlier, and in the Brentford loss so he has to start on the right.

Brenden Aaronson will therefore be in the middle, while Marsch will have to hope that the break recharged Jack Harrison and he can rediscover the top form he displayed in the early weeks of the season.

Tyler Adams and Marc Roca haven’t done much wrong so far so there is no reason for the manager to change their partnership at the base of the midfield, but it’s likely to be all change in defence in front of Illan Meslier.

The collapse at the back in the 5-2 reverse contained worrying signs of the kind that so often cropped up last season, with centre-back pairing Diego Llorente and Robin Koch especially calamitous.

Cooper is sure to come in for Llorente, and while Marsch likes Koch the fact that Firpo is finally back to fulfil his role as the only natural left-back means he could be put straight in.

Pascal Struijk has done a reasonable job in relief down the left-hand side, so he is arguably more deserving of keeping his place than Koch and can shift over to his preferred centre-back role next to Cooper.

Cody Drameh was unfortunate to finally get a chance in such a poor all round performance in defence and then miss out on the opportunity to put things right in the postponed games, while Ayling got an assist on his return.

But summer signing Rasmus Kristensen is now fit again, and is coming off a stand-out performance for Denmark as he helped keep Kylian Mbappe quiet in a 2-0 defeat of world champions France.

Although he has struggled to adapt to the top flight so far, it seems likely that he will keep his place in the hope that the international performance was the spark to get him going, but Ayling is sure to be straight off the bench if not.

The likes of Rodrigo, Joe Gelhardt and Crysensio Summerville are all unlucky to miss out, and Willy Gnonto could see some minutes as a substitute, while Sonny Perkins is a dark horse to make the bench.

In other Leeds United news, outstanding business in the summer is now pouring salt on a Premier League rival’s wound repeatedly.