Leeds United enjoyed a glowing opening to the campaign which was characterised by profound and genuine optimism for the future, but that feeling is lacking the strength which it carried in the early stages following a handful of disappointing results.
Marcelo Bielsa takes his side into their clash against rock-bottom Ipswich as firm-favourites despite losing their most recent fixture against Blackburn at Ewood Park.
The Rovers inflicted Leeds’ second defeat of the season with an excellent home performance in which the visiting side struggled for flair and guile in the final-third.
However, the fresh injection of ideas which academy product Jack Clarke provided in the closing stages hinted that his first start may be just around the corner.
17-year-old Clarke came on for Stuart Dallas with less than 15 minutes to go but his forward-thinking dynamism provided Leeds with a menacing outlet in the short period of time he was given.
And although Bielsa may have his reservations about deploying him from the outset against Ipswich, it’s a decision which he would be wise to make in light of Leeds’ relative struggle in-front of goal in recent weeks.
Indeed, the Whites have found the back of the net in each of their last 5 fixtures, but they have taken just 5 points from those fixtures and their inability to score 2 goals or more has clearly restricted their progress.
With Kemar Roofe available for selection once again, Bielsa should drop Tyler Roberts to the bench -despite his promising return of 3 goals from 7 Championship appearances – and move his star striker back into centre-forward after his stint on the right-wing last weekend.
Roofe’s return to the spearhead of the attack will free up a place on the wing for Clarke to slot into, and if he manages to express the confidence which he displayed against Blackburn there is no doubt he will be in for an enjoyable evening at Elland Road.
It’s a decision which carries an element of risk considering Clarke’s inexperience at this level, but there is evidence to suggest that it could help Leeds return to their fluid best and open the floodgates against Ipswich.
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