Leeds United’s compelling opening to the season has given the supporters plenty of reason to be optimistic about their chances of clinching promotion, but Patrick Bamford’s injury setback has threatened to dampen that optimism.
That Bamford has hardly featured in Leeds United’s opening fixtures this season is the only consolation the club can take from his 4 month setback. Kemar Roofe has been excellent at the spearhead of the attack to the extent in which Bielsa has predominantly used the £10 million man as an impact substitute.
Leeds have managed to race into top spot without needing to start Bamford, but a dip in form or injury to Roofe would now leave Leeds in an incredibly undesirable situation.
With Bamford out injured for such an extended period of time Bielsa needs to begin pondering how his team could line-up if Roofe is also ruled out.
Bielsa has two youngsters to chose from in Tyler Roberts and Jack Clarke but their lack of experience at senior level is a legitimate cause for concern, so the Argentine may be forced to deploy a more experienced attacking player at centre-forward or even as a false-nine.
And one player who he would be wise to consider through the middle is Ezgjan Alioski after he bagged 2 goals for Macedonia during the international break against Gibraltar and Armenia.
Alisoki (valued at £3.6 million by Transfermarkt) is one of the club’s most dangerous attacking outlets and his best work arrives in the final-third when he manages to evade the linesman’s flag.
A natural left-winger by trade who prefers to go down the line onto his favoured left-foot, Alioski is unproven at centre-forward but his goal-scoring exploits this week suggest he is an option worth considering if Roofe is unavailable.
Whether he would be more comfortable operating as a classic number nine or in a slightly deeper position is a matter for Bielsa to discuss with the Macedonia international, but there’s no doubt he possesses the skill set to do a job in either role.
With a lack of senior options in attack Bielsa will need to maintain a pragmatic mindset throughout Bamford’s absence and turning to Alioski as a solution to the problem may well be in Leeds’ best interests if they reach crisis point.
Leeds fans – thoughts on Alioski at centre-forward? Let us know below!