By Joe Ellis

8th Apr, 2022 | 11:10am

Leeds United must start Joe Gelhardt if fit to expose Watford defence

Leeds United make the long trip south to Vicarage Road to take on relegation-threatened Watford on Saturday with three points the aim.

The Whites have found their mojo again under Jesse Marsch with seven points from a possible nine in the last three matches while the Hornets are still waiting for that bounce with Roy Hodgson.

The former England boss has made them slightly less vulnerable to conceding but there is still a big problem with their rearguard action that Leeds can expose.

That will only happen if teenage striker Joe Gelhardt is fit to start though with the Yorkshire Evening Post reporting that March is hopeful he can after suffering from a dead leg.

He needs to be ready to play because only a natural number nine will be able to properly punish Watford for their issues.

Just taking their last game away at Liverpool as an example, you can see there is often a big enough space between the two central defenders that a striker can ghost in.

It was Diogo Jota who took advantage for the title-chasers but Gelhardt possesses all the attributes to do the same for Marsch’s Whites if he can last even an hour from the start.

We’ve seen before how good his movement is when he is the out and out number nine with this lung-busting run into the box to eventually score against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

If he can find this kind of determination again, Leeds United could have a field day at Vicarage Road.

One thing Leeds will need to be wary of is the midfield press the Hornets often use to try and spring a rapid counter-attack.

Even Liverpool fell foul of this on occasion with Juraj Kucka here nipping in ahead of Curtis Jones to set the attack on its way.

He didn’t stop there either as he burst beyond the retreating Reds to get in behind Joel Matip and unleash a shot at the goal.

Alisson made the save here but Leeds cannot afford to give Hodgson’s men too many chances like this if they have any ambition of winning tomorrow afternoon.

In other Leeds United news, the entire squad are only weeks away from a big financial boost as survival bonuses are revealed.