By George Overhill

9th Mar, 2022 | 9:10am

Rodrigo currently tops Leeds United striker pecking order amid squad changes

Rodrigo will be expected to “hold the fort” as the main Leeds United striker for now amid squad changes, reports the Yorkshire Evening Post’s Graham Smyth.

The position has been one of concern all season, with first choice forward Patrick Bamford suffering repeated injuries, and former manager Marcelo Bielsa intent on using Tyler Roberts or winger Dan James in his absence.

Welshman Roberts is now expected to miss the remainder of the season after undergoing hamstring surgery, and youngster Joe Gelhardt has been permanently promoted to the first team under new boss Jesse Marsch, while Bamford is finally returning to fitness.

Smyth has run through the pecking order up front in the YEP and writes: “Bamford was fit enough for 10 minutes at the weekend, so logic dictates that he may have a quarter of an hour or even a little more in the tank as a substitute against Aston Villa.

“While the once-capped England international is steadily drip-fed the minutes he needs to get up to full speed, Rodrigo is expected to hold the fort in the striker role, but Gelhardt must be pushing the more experienced man hard.

“It was the teenager to whom Marsch turned in the second half at Leicester and, given Rodrigo’s patchy record of availability – he lasted 90 Premier League minutes just four times last season and 10 this season – Gelhardt can almost certainly expect involvement in the next couple of games.”

Last chance

Big-money Spanish signing Rodrigo was brought to the club as a forward more than a midfielder but has flattered to deceive at Elland Road.

This could be his final opportunity to impress in the central forward role, as Bielsa clearly did not trust him there, and Bamford appears to finally be approaching full fitness.

The Argentinian former manager’s reluctance to use Gelhardt was symbolic of the lack of development of the under-23s which contributed to his removal.

So it will please fans that Marsch turned to him against Leicester, and he appears to be further integrated into the set up, ready to take his opportunity.

The injury to Roberts is unfortunate for both the player and the team, as he may struggle to return to the first-team if the club stays in the Premier League after his difficulties this season.

Until Bamford is ready to lead the line again it is likely to be a committee affair, and between the alternative candidates, they have to find a way to put chances away.

The Whites were goalless again at the King Power Stadium despite an improved team performance, and they need points quickly.

In other Leeds United news, a behind the scenes issue has been raised regarding one of the United stars under Bielsa.