Daniel Farke could finally unleash Ilia Gruev as Leeds United changes expected
Most of Daniel Farke’s summer signings at Leeds United have impressed this season, with the likes of Ethan Ampadu and Joel Piroe shining at Elland Road.
However, one man that supporters have had to wait to see feature regularly for the Whites is Ilia Gruev as the midfielder still waits for his first Championship start since making the switch from Werder Bremen this summer.
It has been hard for the Bulgarian international to get his career in England up and running, given the impressive form of the other midfielders at Elland Road in recent weeks, but Farke has admitted that he wants to “unleash” the 23-year-old.
As quoted by the Yorkshire Evening Post (24 October) he said: “I have to say I’m really happy with Ilia, he came pretty late, without having a pre-season, really humble guy but with a good record, he’s played two years on Bundesliga level, a good level last season, more than 30 games.
“He’s a regular starter for Bulgaria, always in the starting line-up. I was definitely tempted to unleash him before because he was training at top level, but [we’ve had] really top performances by players in midfield, in his position.
“We have perhaps some areas where it would be perhaps even a bit easier [for him] to come into the game but as a coach in the heart of your game, you are not so tempted to change too much from game to game. My gut feeling is that he will also play an important role in the upcoming games.”
Farke has implied that he may well be forced to make changes in Leeds’ next few games, with a quick turnaround between the Whites’ clash with Stoke City on Wednesday (25 October) and their meeting with Huddersfield on Saturday (28 October).
After Ampadu had an uncharacteristically sloppy display against Norwich City last time out and given his immense involvement with Wales during the October international break, the German boss may well have found the perfect opportunity to finally afford Gruev his first start.
Whether or not that is against Stoke or Huddersfield, it feels as though Leeds United have to offer the Bulgarian international a chance sooner rather than later, even if it goes against Farke’s preference not to tinker with his side too often.
There are few positions as well stocked in the Leeds’ side than in midfield so Gruev will have to take his chance when he gets it to ensure that he remains a regular starter. If he struggles, the likes of Ampadu and Glen Kamara will quickly return to the fold.