By George Overhill

6th Jan, 2023 | 9:30pm

Leeds United boss Jesse Marsch will now struggle to convince Cody Drameh to stay

Jesse Marsch likely won’t be able to convince Cody Drameh to stay at Leeds United even he plays the whole game against Cardiff City, says Graham Smyth.

The Whites face the Welsh side in the FA Cup third round on Sunday (8 January), the club where the 21-year-old full-back had a highly-successful loan earlier this year.

But with multiple clubs interested in signing Drameh as he struggles for game time at Elland Road, Smyth has suggested the youngster has “more than a hint of ‘one that got away’ potential about him” with an exit now looking likely.

In his Friday column for the Yorkshire Evening Post Smyth wrote: “[Drameh] has been a part of Marsch’s first team squad this season, played once in the Premier League and impressed in the Spanish training camp. It’s possible to picture the 21-year-old in Leeds first team action at some point in the future and yet that is where the problem lies, because the path from here to there, from the present to that future is obscured by Luke Ayling and Rasmus Kristensen.

“For all Marsch’s talk of how much he likes Drameh, a pair of experienced right-backs stand in his way and the head coach evidently likes them more right now. The American, though, understands that speaking highly of the youngster is not quite enough.

“Drameh would dearly love to play on Sunday. It was at Cardiff that he made his first real splash as a senior player, more than keeping his head above water in the Championship.

“That spell ensured that there would be transfer interest in the summer and this month. And given Marsch’s admission that what will keep Drameh at Elland Road is game time, it’s surely now the case that not even a full run out in the FA Cup will convince him to change tack and stay put. Many a port will be willing to welcome him back to the Championship.”

Missed opportunity

Kristensen hasn’t been a terrible signing but the Dane hasn’t necessarily been a definite upgrade on Ayling so far, so if his signing ultimately leads to Drameh leaving it could prove a big mistake.

The young full-back hasn’t sparkled in the Leeds United first team from sparse opportunities but is highly-rated and attracting interest from across England and Europe.

He wasn’t content to sit on the bench or in the stands under Marcelo Bielsa last season and pushed for a temporary move, which he made a major success of in winning the fans’ player of the year award in south Wales.

Marsch has spoken in recent weeks of wanting to give him more first team opportunities, but it may already be too late.

Kristensen has been inconsistent and Ayling was injured for a number of weeks to open the season, which was the perfect opportunity to give Drameh a run in the team.

Having not taken up that chance, on top of signing the former Salzburg man in the summer just when it appeared that perhaps the Cardiff loan had pushed the young player into contention, his mind may well be made up, and the Whites will be kicking themselves if he goes on to shine elsewhere.

In other Leeds United news, an in-demand January target may have already played his last game ahead of a potential move.