Leeds United players without a single minute this year receive reassuring assessment
None of the Leeds United players who are yet to taste a single minute of first team action this year should be worried about their situation, says Phil Hay.
With Jesse Marsch largely settled on his preferred starting XI, and dealing with some long-term injuries, there are a few names who haven’t featured at all so far.
Junior Firpo and Stuart Dallas headline the group, which also contains new arrivals Darko Gyabi, Willy Gnonto and Joel Robles, while youngsters Kristoffer Klaesson and Archie Gray are also lesser-spotted.
But Hay is satisfied the situation in each instance is in order, as he contributes to The Athletic’s feature on the subject by saying: “None of these players have anything to worry about.”
The reliable reporter expects left-back Firpo to be back in contention following the international break as he is now fit after injury, while Dallas is a long-term absentee as he recovers from his broken leg so couldn’t have expected to feature.
Similarly, the two goalkeepers Klaesson and Robles are employed as back-up and have not been required to cover for Illan Meslier.
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Wonderkid Gray, 16, is who Hay feels was closest to some action in the Carabao Cup before he was ruled out with a virus, while fellow teenagers Gnonto and Gyabi haven’t been at the club long so have time, with Gyabi already doing well for the under-21s.
Gray might feel slightly aggrieved not to have kicked a ball in anger for the first team considering the big talk about his rise during the summer.
The Barnsley game on 24 August would have been the ideal way to ease him in so it is unfortunate that he was unavailable, but with a strong start to the year there should have been the opportunity for a few minutes to get him acclimatised.
Gnonto’s involvement in the first-team will be something fans have a strong eye on throughout the season, since the Italy international was signed on deadline day after the failure to secure any senior options.
But considering his fantastic scoring form since he arrived from West Ham it seems likely that Sonny Perkins is the under-21s star who is the biggest threat to the senior XI at present.
How Firpo fares upon his return from injury could go a long way to determining how the defence looks for the rest of the season, after a difficult first campaign.
Perhaps more worthy of the spotlight are those who have received some game time but arguably not enough, with captain Liam Cooper needed in the league line-up after just 45 minutes in the Carabao tie, and youngsters Joe Gelhardt, Crysencio Summerville, and especially Sam Greenwood, so far not afforded as many opportunities as seemed likely when they were elevated permanently to the first-team.
Mateusz Klich is another whose minutes are under scrutiny after he came close to an exit before the transfer window shut, but he appears to have reached a satisfactory agreement with Marsch to feature as an impact substitute for now.
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