Eminent signing to start, Willy Gnonto out again – Leeds United predicted XI v Birmingham City
Daniel Farke could hand soon-to-be new Leeds United recruit Joe Rodon a start ahead of their Championship clash against Birmingham City on Saturday (12 August).
Leeds got their season off to an unwanted if exciting opening day draw against Cardiff City where Crysencio Summerville provided a stoppage-time equaliser to make it 2-2 and kill any hopes of three points for the Bluebirds.
However the Whites, according to The Athletic (8 August), are close to completing a loan move for Tottenham Hotspur defender Joe Rodon, who could come in at an ideal time following captain Liam Cooper’s injury against Cardiff.
Ethan Ampadu slipped into the centre-back position in Leeds’ EFL Cup clash against Shrewsbury Town, but we predict Rodon to come straight into the deal ahead of the injured Cooper if his deal is completed on time.
He will partner with the opening goalscorer against Shrewsbury, Pascal Struijk, alongside full-backs Sam Byram and Luke Ayling.
Ayling could keep his spot from the opening match but Farke may opt to start Byram ahead of Leo Hjelde. The young Norwegian has come off at halftime in both of Leeds’ matches so far this season, so perhaps Farke will want to give new the signing a full 90 in the Championship and axe the 19-year-old.
Farke, as quoted by LeedsLive (9 August), has called both Byram’s performances “fantastic” ahead of this clash, so we predict the 29-year-old to displace the youngster.
Behind the defensive line, we predict Illan Meslier to start again. New signing Karl Darlow got his chance against Shrewsbury but could become number one if the Frenchman departs. In the meantime, despite his uneven performance against Cardiff, the 23-year-old remains in between the sticks.
The midfield will likely remain unchanged from drawing with the Welsh side, with Ampadu partnering the lively Archie Gray. While Farke said that he would have liked to have rested Ampadu during the Shrewsbury clash, he said that Leeds “have problems at centre-back” and that “positioning in midfield was not ideal without [Ampadu] in there”, meaning the Welsham is unlikely to lose his spot as he has already shown his worth there.
While Gray is still just 17 years old, Farke seems keen to use him a lot this season and develop him ahead of promotion. Farke said that Gray is in “really good shape” and believes he can “handle the load”, so we have tipped him for this third consecutive start.
The attacking midfielders remain unchanged with Dan James and Luis Sinisterra, but Crysencio Summerville will miss out. The Athletic reported (8 August) that the winger will be out of the squad for up to three weeks due to a groin strain, which is a real shame for Leeds fans considering his late dramatics last weekend.
James has not had the best start to the season, but Farke will likely back him to find his form and be a true asset for the club going forward.
However, the German won’t give James all the time in the world to make an impact. The Welshman must take advantage of these opportunities if he wants to remain a regular starter, so a good performance on Saturday would certainly help his cause.
Up top, we predict a first league start for Joe Gelhardt this season. After equalising against Shrewsbury when Leeds United were 1-0 down, he could be set for a big confidence boost. Willy Gnonto could be dropped too. According to the Daily Mail (9 August), the Italian asked not to be included in the squad against Shrewsbury.
While Farke may not drop one of his best attackers in a Championship game, he may want to send a message to wantaway players. That being said, Gnonto may have asked to not be in the squad for the EFL Cup match so as to not risk injury ahead of any move. Either way, Gelhardt could have his chance.