By George Overhill

16th Sep, 2022 | 6:44pm

Leeds United have named a “front line and a half” for the under-21s game against Southampton on Friday night (16 September) says Graham Smyth.

In the absence of any senior fixtures for a full 29 days the Whites took advantage of the age-group match this week to send out a number of first-team players in a line-up that also included the pick of the young talent.

With Patrick Bamford starting up front next to Premier League 2 player of the month Sonny Perkins, with Golden Boy nominee Willy Gnonto and Crysencio Summerville either side it will be a daunting prospect for the Saints defence.

Reacting to the line-up on his personal Twitter account Smyth wrote: “That’s a front line and a half for a 21s game.”

Club captain Liam Cooper, veteran defender Luke Ayling, and nominal starting left-back Junior Firpo also start, while wonderkid Archie Gray lines up next to summer signing from Manchester City Darko Gyabi.

Formidable

With a number of the notable names involved returning from injury this is the only opportunity to continue their recoveries with no Premier League action available.

The postponements in the wake of the Queen’s death, plus the international break, have given the Whites an unprecedented mid-season break from domestic fixtures.

The younger talent at Thorp Arch is currently very strong, and with the likes of Joe Gelhardt and Sam Greenwood not even included here and Charlie Cresswell on loan at Millwall there is a plethora of up-and-coming options in West Yorkshire.

It would be typically ironic if this line up now went and lost the game, but heading towards kick off it is certainly a side that would not look out of place in the top flight.

There will be major focus on various targets, especially the Leeds start for deadline day arrival Gnonto, and the return to action for Firpo.

Cooper is surely a candidate to return to the first team when Jesse Marsch picks his next team so an outing here with no set backs would also be helpful for him to prove his readiness.

In other Leeds United news, Phil Hay has reacted to a surprising name being added to the Whites’ Premier League squad for the season.