By George Overhill

14th Sep, 2022 | 1:40pm

Joe Gelhardt and Pascal Struijk among Leeds United players hurt most by long lay-off

Leeds United players are not yet half way through a 29 day lay off from meaningful action in a Whites shirt but the situation won’t affect all of them equally.

Following the 5-2 defeat at Brentford on 3 September the death of the Queen saw all matches the following weekend postponed, including United’s Monday meeting with Nottingham Forest despite it being announced that day that action would resume.

With the trip to Old Trafford to face Manchester United a category A game that requires a heavy police presence the coming weekend’s match has also been called off with a number of Greater Manchester Police expected in London around the funeral.

The international break comes next, leaving the next game as the visit of Aston Villa on 2 October, so here MOT Leeds News looks at the three Leeds United players worst affected by the delay.

Joe Gelhardt

The 20-year-old was tipped for an important role ahead of the season, with a new long-term contract cementing his status in the eyes of the club, but is starting to look doomed to be the club’s nearly-man.

With Patrick Bamford’s injury earlier in the season coming during a game where Joffy was himself absent with a knock was typical of the luck he has had in grasping his opportunity.

Having finally started at Brentford with Rodrigo dislocating his shoulder four days earlier (30 August) against Everton, and Dan James controversially sent to Fulham on loan late on transfer deadline day, it looked like his time had finally come until Jesse Marsch replaced him early in the second half despite carrying a threat and linking well with substitute Bamford.

It doesn’t seem to take much for the manager to lose faith and switch to alternatives whenever it comes to Gelhardt, despite his vital contributions to the relegation battle last season, so with almost a month of recovery time likely to help Bamford back to full fitness, and also bring Rodrigo back into contention, that could push the youngster to the back of the queue again.

He would likely have got another chance to start if the Forest game had gone ahead, but whatever progress was made in finally cracking the XI from kick-off could well be gone come the start of October with the two senior options back available, so the wait will again go on for him to receive a sustained run.

Cody Drameh

A similar situation applies to the exciting full-back prospect on the right hand side, who hasn’t even received the attention that his attacking teammate has.

After few opportunities last year he pushed for a January loan to Cardiff, and having secured the move he turned it into a breakout period where he won the fans award for player of the year despite being a loanee and only there for half a season.

The stars looked to have aligned for him to return to a hero’s welcome at Elland Road and fill the hole left by injuries to Luke Ayling and Stuart Dallas, but instead the Whites quickly brought in Rasmus Kristensen who then started every game until Brentford.

With the Dane out injured Drameh finally got his chance, but was part of an all round calamity in defence as Ivan Toney netted a hat-trick before the 20-year-old was withdrawn for the returning Ayling.

It was hardly the easiest game to at last get a start in, but it should be noted that the two Bees goals that killed the game were scored after he went off.

Even so, with Ayling managing an assist soon after his introduction and Kristensen now afforded time to get back to full fitness, Drameh could see himself bumped down to third choice like Gelhardt when he would likely have been in line for some more involvement while the summer signing was out.

The time to get fit will be a boost overall for Marsch and the squad, but the youngster may be cursing his luck that timing robs him of an opportunity to make a break through.

Pascal Struijk

The recent call up to the Dutch squad has been pressed into action as a makeshift left-back for the duration of the season so far, and although there have been some definite growing pains in terms of positioning he has been a surprise package.

He played his part in the slapstick defensive display at Brentford but was easily outshined on the calamity front by both Diego Llorente and Robin Koch.

Going forward, the natural central defender has actually been somewhat of a revelation, and while that has left his defensive spot open for the Whites to be caught on the counter it isn’t necessarily entirely his fault.

But with Junior Firpo, the only outright Leeds United left-back in the senior squad, now fit to make his return for the under-21s just at the point where there is a significant interlude in the prior set up it wouldn’t be a total shock to see the manager opt for a complete reset at the back that includes bringing the former Barcelona man back into the line up.

He wasn’t a roaring success in his first year with the club but they clearly saw enough in him to hold off signing another player at the position during the transfer window so the American could easily feel that a natural option on the left would help address the defensive issues.

Struijk has done a committed job out of position for a number of weeks but without any more opportunities to make his case in games before Firpo is back to full fitness his days as the starter could be numbered.

In other Leeds United news, one Elland Road player has received good news on his decision on a possible exit from the club.