By Anthony Onifade

14th Sep, 2023 | 5:10pm

Leeds United: Daniel Farke set to make brutal Jamie Shackleton v Millwall, Djed Spence must start

Jamie Shackleton’s progress at Leeds United over the summer has certainly left many impressed at Elland Road but Daniel Farke could make a brutal call on him against Millwall.

The Athletic journalist Phil Hay, writing on 14 September, shared that the 23-year-old’s “rock-solid” fitness standards and domination of the bleep test, with his dedication to training, has caught the eye of Daniel Farke and his staff.

The midfielder had been attracting plenty of interest during the summer window, with the likes of Rangers and Championship club QPR exploring deals to bring him in but Shackleton kept his down and remained at Elland Road despite the assumption he would depart.

The reliable journalist also reported that Farke could instigate talks over a new contract for Shackleton because of his commitment and progress but the club are yet to offer him one.

Shackleton, who has spent 17 years on Leeds’ books, is due to be out of contract at Elland Road at the end of the campaign but his early-season performances have certainly suggested that he may have a future beyond next summer.

Indeed, in the Whites’ last Championship encounter, the 0-0 draw with Sheffield Wednesday before the international break, playing in an unfamiliar role at left-back, Shackleton averaged the joint-third best score of any Leeds United player at 7.6/10 [SofaScore] in an impressive and solid showing.

Subscribe to Football Insider TV now

The 23-year-old won six of his total duels, recorded a whopping 99 touches successfully completed 89% of his passes, 100% of his long balls, and 75% of his dribbles whilst also recording three key passes [SofaScore] and he certainly pulled up similar numbers in the EFL cup penalty-shootout win at Salford City.

Those two performances certainly showcased a player determined to prove himself at the club and one enjoying a tremendous renaissance at the club, but given the Whites’ long-term issues at left-back, Shackleton should only be considered a short-term solution, as brutal as that may seem.

In fact, Farke already possesses a player well-versed in fulfilling the role, at least until the injured Sam Byram [Phil Hay, 29 August] returns that man is Tottenham loanee Spence.

The full-back joined the Whites on a season-long loan in a last-gasp transfer in the closing days of the transfer window on 30 August, the club’s sixth summer signing, as per the official Leeds website.

Spence is definitely a top talent, and can undoubtedly help Leeds in their drive to return to the Premier League at the first time of asking after he achieved the same feat with Nottingham Forest in the season before last.

While Spence is considered a specialist right-back, he can also be a very dependable left-back for Leeds United and the youngster certainly holds all the attributes and qualities necessary to thrive in the role and help the Whites to a much-needed victory in South London on Sunday 17 September.

Many of the elite sides on the continent are all deploying right-footed full-backs on the left flank so they can invert in possession while providing numerical advantage and Spence is a fantastic bet for the role.

That 2021/22 campaign looked to be Spence’s breakout year at Nottingham Forest as he registered two goals and four assists from 42 Championship appearances while registering six big chances created, 1.0 key passes per game, helping Forest to 15 clean sheets and excelling tremendously in his defensive actions [SofaScore] marking him out as one of the most complete young full-backs in the country and receiving glowing praise from Arsenal legend Ian Wright hailing him as “unbelievable”.

Spence looked bright when he came off the bench to make his Elland Road debut in the draw against Sheffield Wednesday winning two fouls in the nine minutes he was on the pitch, saving two certain goals with impressive tackles, completing 100% of his nine attempted passes and managed four ball recoveries as Farke’s side drew a blank against the Owls (Fotmob).

He will back himself to earn a place in the side which may come at The Den against Millwall at the expense of the ever-improving Shackleton. It may seem a brutal call from Farke, but it’s one which could have promising benefits down the line.

In other Leeds United news, a promising Elland Road injury update has emerged as three players are now set to return to action at The Den on Sunday.