By George Overhill

4th Aug, 2023 | 8:40pm

Leeds United hit by 'staggering' crisis as Joe Gelhardt prediction emerges ahead of first Daniel Farke match vs Cardiff City

It is “staggering” that Leeds United have arrived at the start of the new Championship season without a recognised striker fit to face Cardiff City after a summer of such upheaval, says Beren Cross.

The Leeds Live journalist predicted on the outlet’s website on Friday (4 August) that the “smart money” says Joe Gelhardt will now start at Elland Road on Sunday with Daniel Farke unable to call on Patrick Bamford, Georginio Rutter and Mateo Joseph thanks to an injury crisis.

With Cross suggesting that the manager and the board have not “made any noises” to suggest the incoming transfer business is over after the signings of Ethan Ampadu and Karl Darlow, the injury situation is tipped to “only focus minds at Elland Road on where their money is now spent”.

Farke confirmed that all three forwards were unavailable in his pre-match press conference on Friday, with the injury-plagued Bamford out until the international break, “bad news” on Joseph ruling him out for up to four weeks, and Rutter missing for at least the Cardiff and Shrewsbury games.

Leeds United have been linked to the likes of Joel Piroe at Swansea and RB Leipzig’s Yussuf Poulsen this summer, and the need for cover looks to have now shot up.

Typical Leeds

It will come as no surprise to fans that the Whites need to sign a striker since that has been the situation at Elland Road since at least last summer.

Bamford’s injury history is becoming more extensive with every passing month and even if fit he is the only senior number nine in the squad.

Joseph’s emergence helps, and Sonny Perkins may now get an opportunity, but with Rodrigo leaving this summer the old issue of signing a senior central striker seemed all the more necessary.

When Gelhardt’s loan at Sunderland proved a slot when injury forced him to lead the line he will be feeling deja vu back at Elland Road.

This time around the new regime at least has the excuse of attempting to conduct their transfer business in a reduced timeframe after the 49ers takeover, and with the transfer budget undercut by numerous low-cost loan exits, but the need seems no less glaring.

Victor Orta didn’t have the same issues a year ago but only managed to sign Willy Gnonto this time last year, with the Italian teenager proving a revelation but not a central striker, and then decided to spend a club-record amount on Rutter in January when, again, the French youngster isn’t an out-and-out centre forward and Bamford had been struggling for fitness and form.

So it looks like the club is once more going to have to muddle through the start of the Championship season using a combination of stand-in options unless Farke, Nick Hammond and Gretar Steinsson can source an affordable option in the market very quickly.

In other Leeds United news, a new Whites signing has been spotted at Elland Road ahead of an “imminent” announcement that he has joined on a permanent basis.