Leeds United supporters have been pretty satisfied in recent times despite seeing their team only manage one win from their four Championship games prior to the international break.
Marcelo Bielsa’s men made a great start to the campaign by winning five of their opening eight matches to sit top of the pile, yet their progress has stalled somewhat in recent times with just five points from four games. The Whites suffered their first, and so far only, defeat of the campaign to Birmingham City back on September 22 before drawing 1-1 with Sheffield Wednesday a week later, and while they got back to winning ways by edging past Hull City on October 2, they couldn’t back that up in drawing 1-1 with Brentford four days later.
Nonetheless, there are many satisfied Leeds fans up and down the country at present such has been their side’s encouraging start to the season, and they are likely to be even more thrilled given Kemar Roofe looks set to return from injury against Blackburn Rovers this weekend.
Yet his return to fitness will give manager Bielsa a selection dilemma against Tony Mowbray’s men such has been Tyler Roberts’ great form in Roofe’s absence, but while that is something of a short-term headache for the Leeds boss, it’s a very good long-term problem to have.
Ultimately, there were some concerns among supporters when Roofe was made unavailable for the trip to Millwall back in September due to injury, what with Roberts the only fit striker following the injury to summer signing Patrick Roberts some time before.
And while Wales international Roberts didn’t net and missed a few good opportunities against the Lions in a 1-1 draw, he has since produced the goods in netting twice in his subsequent five starts for the Whites, all three of which coming in Leeds’ two wins since Roofe’s injury.
Thus, the 19-year-old has done remarkably well in Roofe’s absence to lead the line effectively and come up with some match-winning contributions, to the point that he may be giving Bielsa some food for thought as to whether to reintroduce Roofe straight away, or build him back up to fitness after almost a month without competitive action.
And while it was unthinkable back in September for Bielsa to leave Roofe out of his starting eleven, such was the 25-year-old’s brilliant start to the campaign, that is not as much the case now such has been Roberts’ rise in the last few weeks – one would still expect Roofe to play on Saturday, but it’s far from a foregone conclusion.
Yes, Bielsa may have a selection headache ahead of the trip to Ewood Park this weekend, but it’s a very good problem to have in the long term, as Leeds have been guilty of getting into promotion-winning positions in recent times only to fail as the season went on.
And some of that can be pinned down to the lack of depth in certain areas of the squad, yet messrs Roofe and Roberts have proven already this term that they can produce the goods in the second tier for a side battling near the top – ultimately, the options are there and available for Bielsa that haven’t necessarily been there in seasons gone by.
Only two men reached double figures for the Whites in the Championship last term, while they relied heavily on the goals of Chris Wood the season before in their race to seventh – Roofe’s start of the season threatened to follow a similar route, but Roberts has more than proven his worth.
As such, while Bielsa may have a selection headache in the short-term ahead of the trip to Blackburn, the fine form of messrs Roofe and Roberts is a very good long-term problem for the Leeds manager to have as he plots their return to the Premier League.
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