Phil Hay: Junior Firpo's return gives Jesse Marsch selection headache, but Leeds United left-back 'hasn't looked great'
Junior Firpo has recovered from injury and will give Jesse Marsch a hard choice to make as Leeds United prepare to face Aston Villa.
Firpo is yet to make a first-team appearance for Leeds this season after his pre-season was hugely interrupted by injury.
The 26-year-old suffered an injury in the Whites’ 4-0 victory over Blackpool in the summer and missed out on the club’s tour of Australia as a result.
But after an eight-week recovery period, Firpo is back fit and in contention, and Marsch has to choose whether to throw him back into the starting line-up.
Via a discussion on The Athletic, journalist Phil Hay acknowledged the issue but has backed Struijk to keep his place after remaining unconvinced by Firpo.
“Firpo is back. That’s a key decision today,” stated Hay.
“Personally, I kind of feel that if Leeds are going to back Firpo, they need to get him on a roll.
“But I’m far from convinced about him, the same as everyone else. Technically, he hasn’t looked great and his defensive positioning can be a problem.”
While Struijk was initially fielded at left-back to fill gaps in the side, the Dutchman has not done enough wrong to warrant him being kicked out of the starting XI.
Marsch needs to show consistency in his team selection – something that has resulted in a lot of success this season.
There’s no doubt that Firpo was brought in to be Leeds’ first-choice left-back, but after coming back from such a long injury he needs more time to gain sharpness. Especially as he is so often caught out defensively.
With a flurry of Premier League fixtures on the horizon in October, Marsch will be forced to rotate and Firpo will get his chance to shine as a result.
But against Villa on Sunday, Marsch needs to stay loyal to the players that have so far impressed this season. Struijk is certainly on that list and deserves to retain his left-back spot.
Firpo is also a brilliant option from the bench. For the first time in a long time, it seems Leeds will have some quality options to pick from in their squad, and Firpo’s energy going forward could be crucial if the Whites find themselves chasing the game.
In other Leeds United news, Willy Gnonto is well ahead of schedule and could make Leeds United debut v Aston Villa