Middlesbrough manager Jonathan Woodgate has claimed that he could start players that are only 85% fit against Leeds United on Wednesday.
The Hartlepool Mail revealed that Boro should be without Daniel Ayala, Dael Fry, Anfernee Dijksteel and Patrick Roberts at the Riverside Stadium.
Recent comments from Woodgate have brought to light that Ayala could return sooner than once expected though, with his side having limited options at the back.
Woodgate used Ayala as an example, with Boro having not won a single game since the Spaniard was ruled out injured.
“Ayala has been a big miss. He’s a top player and hopefully, we’ll get him back soon,” he said, via the Hartlepool Mail.
“I need players to be available who maybe aren’t at 100 per cent – maybe only 90 per cent or 85 per cent. I need them to play.”
It would be a big risk to feature players that aren’t at the top of their fitness against the Whites, with the relentless nature of Marcelo Bielsa’s side enough to blow anyone away.
Leeds could certainly take advantage of Boro should Woodgate select any player that isn’t at the peak of their fitness. Playing against the Whites can be a nightmare, as their ability to shift the ball easily from side-to-side is enough to unlock any defence.
Take the recent victory over Bristol City for an example of how demanding it can be to play against Leeds. Sofa Score’s attacking momentum graph only highlights just how much defending you can be forced to do against Bielsa Ball.
Leeds completed nearly triple the number of accurate passes according to WhoScored whilst keeping 68.4% possession. The Whites had 17 more shots on goal and were only dispossessed 14 times over the 90 minutes.
Having even just one weak link in your defence can be a huge problem, and Woodgate should be careful in his team selection on Wednesday evening.
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