By David Woods

29th Dec, 2019 | 2:01pm

Nketiah starts, Bamford not in squad – confirmed Leeds starting XI v Birmingham

Marcelo Bielsa has finally given Eddie Nketiah his first start in the Championship. 

With speculation mounting about his future given his lack of game time at Leeds so far, this represents a massive opportunity for Nketiah to stake his claim for a first-team spot.

Patrick Bamford isn’t in the squad, which presumably points to a fitness problem for the striker.

Elsewhere, Tyler Roberts is back in the 18 but there’s no place in the squad for 20-year-old Jamie Shackleton.

Both players were said to be fit and we were expecting both of them to make the bench today.

The team news was announced by Leeds on its official Twitter page ahead of the 3pm kick-off.

There’s been no word of a setback for Shackleton so it could be that Marcelo Bielsa doesn’t consider him match fit yet.

There could be a bigger role for Roberts in the next few weeks, with Pablo Hernandez ruled out for a month with a hamstring problem.

Roberts could reprise the number 10 role that he played to great success towards the end of last season.

The big news today is Nketiah, though, and all eyes will be on him as he sets out to prove that he can lead the line for Leeds.

A win for Leeds today could take them back to the top of the Championship on goal difference if West Brom lose to Middlesbrough.

A convincing display from Nketiah could give Marcelo Bielsa a big selection problem going forward – if Arsenal leave the youngster where he is.

In other Leeds United news, Leeds’ Achilles heel has resurfaced ahead of clash v Birmingham