Former Rangers manager Alex McLeish isn’t convinced Leo Hjelde will be thrown in for his Leeds United debut against Newcastle United.
The Lowdown: Leeds’ injury crisis
The Whites take on the Magpies at St James’ Park on Friday night, as they look to properly get their season up and running, having not won in their opening four Premier League games.
Marcelo Bielsa will be without centre-back trio Diego Llorente, Robin Koch and Pascal Struijk, however, with Liam Cooper the only established available option in that position.
The Latest: Pundit plays down Hjelde debut
Speaking to Football Insider, though, McLeish says it would be the wrong decision, given his lack of experience:
“If the young player isn’t ready it’s hard to throw him in. My guess is that Leeds will go around the houses and look at who can fill that hole the best.
“Ayling played there last season, I can’t think they would throw the youngster straight in there. Unless they have seen something exceptional in him. It’s time to introduce him in a small way, maybe in the cups and things.
“I suspect they will move the defence about and put one of the wide players in there.”
The Verdict: Too soon for youngster
Hjelde is a player who hopefully has a huge future ahead of him – he has notably been compared to Liverpool superstar Virgil van Dijk – but now is too soon to throw him in at the deep end.
The Premier League is such a physical, testing division and a fierce St James’ Park crowd could possibly get on top of him, in what is a game Leeds certainly don’t want to lose against one of their fellow winless rivals.
Instead, it may be that Bielsa opts to play Luke Ayling at centre-back, with the ever-versatile Stuart Dallas slotting in at right-back.
In other news, Leeds could sign one player in the January transfer window. Find out who it is here.
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