By Joe Ellis

4th Dec, 2022 | 5:10pm

Leeds United get Darko Gyabi blessing in disguise as Jesse Marsch forced to experiment

Leeds United have begun work in Spain ahead of three friendlies to prepare for the return of Premier League football after Christmas.

The squad underwent their first training session in the Southern Europe sun on Sunday (4 December) but they were without natural left-back Junior Firpo through injury.

As a result, Jesse Marsch was forced to experiment with youngsters Leo Hjelde and Darko Gyabi as makeshift left-backs in an 11-a-side training match, as reported by Leeds Live’s Beren Cross on Twitter.

Hjelde has already played senior football in defence and even at left-back for Leeds United having been asked to step up under Marcelo Bielsa due to a wave of injuries in the senior team.

Gyabi, though, only joined the club in the summer from Manchester City as Kalvin Phillips moved in the opposite direction and has just one game under his belt in the Carabao Cup.

He has been on the bench a handful of times in the Premier League but he is yet to make his debut in the competition having been a regular for the Under-21s this season.

But this new revelation could be the way for the teenager to force his way into the team with Firpo’s fitness a constant worry for Marsch and Pascal Struijk better suited to being a centre-half.

The Dutchman has been adequate as a temporary left-back so far this season but he doesn’t quite have the physicality in terms of speed and agility that is required against the quicker wingers.

Gyabi does have that athleticism that can get him out of tricky situations while also being amazingly comfortable on the ball and able to go both inside and outside on either foot.

That recipe is hard to find all of the ingredients for but the 18-year-old seems to have it all and with some trust and patience he could learn to be an exceptional full-back over time.

In other Leeds United news, injury news from Spain is not ideal with Patrick Bamford suffering yet another setback and a mini goalkeeper crisis.