Leeds United v Newport County: Wilks, Stokes and O’Connor in Cup squad

Mallik Wilks.
Mallik Wilks.
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Leeds United have drafted Mallik Wilks, Eoghan Stokes and Paudie O’Connor into their squad for tonight’s Carabao Cup tie against Newport County.

The development-squad trio are in contention to feature at Elland Road this evening as head coach Thomas Christiansen battles a growing injury list.

Eoghan Stokes.

Eoghan Stokes.

United’s boss lost striker Caleb Ekuban during Saturday’s Championship win at Sunderland and Pablo Hernandez has been ruled out of the second-round clash with Newport after injuring a hip in a first-half collision with midfielder Eunan O’Kane at the Stadium of Light.

Christiansen is already without defenders Matthew Pennington and Gaetano Berardi, both of whom were hurt on the opening weekend of the season at Bolton Wanderers, and he has turned the club’s Under-23s to increase his options against Newport.

United’s line-up for their first-round win over Port Vale – a tie settled by a brilliant Samuel Saiz hat-trick – saw no fewer than nine changes and Christiansen is expected to make wholesale alterations again ahead of Saturday’s league game at Nottingham Forest.

Leeds are due to play a total of seven times this month but Christiansen, whose players are unbeaten in five games, said: “I want to compete in all competitions and if we pass this round we have the possibility to play against a very good team.

“A bit like Port Vale, Newport will come here to show that they are able to beat a Championship team. For this we need to go seriously into the game and not underestimate any team.

“Right now I’m giving high priority to the cup games. The league is very long, we don’t know how it will go and for sure we will have bad moments. We will have situation where the team lose. This is obvious. When that happens we might have to think about priorities but right now, we go for everything.”

O’Connor, an Irish centre-back signed from Limerick last season, featured in parts of Leeds’ pre-season campaign but has not played for the first team. Striker Wilks made his senior debut as a substitute in an FA Cup defeat to Sutton United in January while Stokes is yet to break through from the Under-23s.

Christiansen, meanwhile, hinted that out-of-favour forward Souleymane Doukara might also feature this evening following Ekuban’s injury.

Doukara has been absent from Christiansen’s plans so far and was linked last week with a move to Preston North End.

Christiansen said: “He’s a player at Leeds United and he will be available. Right now he is (part of the squad). We will see what will happen in the next few days.

“He hasn’t played but he’s been training every day in a good rhythm and at a good intensity.”

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