By Craig Scott

19th Oct, 2022 | 5:40pm

Junior Firpo now faces battle to save Leeds United career as Jesse Marsch shares what he's heard about left-back

Junior Firpo will start a game for the first time this season on Thursday night when Leeds United take on Leicester City at the King Power Stadium.

Jesse Marsch confirmed in his press conference on Thursday that Pascal Struijk’s injury means that Firpo, 26, will come back into the side after missing all but 32 minutes of action this season with knee and thigh issues.

Firpo has managed just 28 appearances in all competitions since joining the Whites from Barcelona last year for £12.8million [Sky Sports] with suspensions, injuries and poor form plaguing his time at Elland Road to date.

Struijk’s started the season well at left-back.

Even though the 23-year-old is naturally a centre-back, he’s done incredibly well as a makeshift left-back so far this season with Firpo missing almost every game and Stuart Dallas being ruled out for a while longer due to a broken femur.

Struijk’s injury – although not serious – is well-timed considering Firpo was back on the bench against Arsenal at the weekend and should be fit to a degree to play versus Leicester.

It’s make or break for Firpo in terms of his Leeds career though.

Marsch has been impressed by what he’s seen from the Dominican Republic left-back despite his constantly underwhelming performances.

As quoted by The Athletic, Marsch said: “I’ve heard criticism of Junior from the past or whatever.

“I can only tell you that since I’ve been here, he has in every way tried to adapt and learn and grow into the player I believe he can be. For me, his technical ability and passing ability is one of the best in the team. His athleticism is definitely on the high end of our team. His intelligence is very high. His tactical awareness is also very keen.”.

He added: “I believe he can be a big player here, no doubt, he has everything he needs and his commitment to do that is at a high level even at a moment where Pascal has been playing and it’s not easy for him to accept being on the bench.

“But he’ll be ready for tomorrow, I’m 100 per cent sure of it. I’m excited for him to be on the pitch.”

Marsch has clearly seen more of Firpo than any Leeds fan – especially since the end of last season.

But the continued injury issues, the continued poor performances and the continual yellow cards simply need to stop in order for him to make it here.

Firpo is only 26 years old and he’s got another two and a half years left on his contract at Elland Road.

If he fails to step up and reclaim his starting left-back role from an out-of-position centre-back then it’s a damning verdict on his time at Leeds.

He needs a good game against Leicester.

In other Leeds United news, Phil Hay has mooted a major change for Marsch against Leicester.