Leeds United v Wolverhampton Wanderers: Five talking points ahead of kick off

Liam Bridcutt.
Liam Bridcutt.
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Check out our five talking points ahead of the 7.45pm kick off at Elland Road.

Where will Lewis Cook play tonight?

Any scout worth his salt will have watched Cook already or will at least be aware of his reputation. But the Football League’s young-player-of-the-year award always attracts prying eyes.

Observers of Saturday’s 3-2 victory over Reading should have noticed two things with Cook - that he was largely anonymous on the right wing in the first half but more influential once Steve Evans moved him inside and used him to support Mirco Antenucci and Chris Wood.

It would make sense on that evidence for Cook to remain in a more natural role tonight and Eddie Gray made the point in the YEP today that the 19-year-old’s talent is diminished out wide.

“He’s a central midfielder and he’s always going to be a central midfielder,” Gray said.

Evans is aware of criticism of his handling of Cook but he rebuffed it at his press conference yesterday.

“He’s at an age where he’s developing,” Evans said.

“I hear people offering opinions about Lewis, about why we sometimes play him in different areas of the pitch, but it’s quite interesting that the player who won it (the young player of the year award) last year, Dele Alli, played in three or four positions across the central area for MK Dons. He did it very successfully.

“It was part of his education and I’ve seen a great manager at Tottenham use him in different positions. He’s obviously got his preferred position and we’d see Lewis in a very similar role but it’s about education and developing before Lewis becomes the real deal. He’s already a top talent.”

Does Evans recall Bridcutt against Wolves?

The midfielder is fit again after a thigh strain but in his absence, Toumani Diagouraga scored a rare goal and Luke Murphy has hit an overdue patch of form. Evans admitted recently that United’s players call Bridcutt ‘son of the gaffer’, so highly does the club’s head coach rate him, but Leeds did not miss him for an hour at Birmingham and from half-time onwards in Saturday’s win over Reading, the midfield kept control of proceedings. Leeds should be looking to sign Bridcutt permanently as soon as the season ends but he might have to wait his turn this evening.

Is Bailey Peacock-Farrell on for another opportunity?

Evans gave no hint of that yesterday but games are running out and it is highly unlikely, given his comments about “integrity”, that United’s boss would drop Marco Silvestri away at Hull City this weekend.

Peacock-Farrell’s debut against Queens Park Rangers was safe and sound, helped by a defence who took care of him until the very late concession of a penalty. Leeds speak very highly of him so it would be good to see the 19-year-old goalkeeper take part in a more open, demanding match. Perhaps Preston away on the last day of the season is the right sort of test - more challenging than a home meeting with a woeful Charlton side on April 30.

The opportunity for a top-10 finish is definitely there

Preston go to Birmingham tonight and QPR visit Brighton so if Leeds turn Wolves over, there is a very good chance of them being right on the verge of 10th position by full-time. In fact, if Birmingham continue their mediocre finish to the season then someone is going to pip them to ninth place too. It’s not an achievement to write home about and United are still only seven points above 21st-placed Rotherham but it would doubtless please Evans to produce a better finish than any Leeds manager since Simon Grayson.

It’s magic, you know...

Well, not any more. Dicko is injured, Afobe left for Bournemouth in January and Sako signed for Crystal Palace last summer. Wolves have missed those three players desperately and given their respective issues up front, it would be a surprise if these two sides repeat the 4-3 epic they fought out at Molineux on Easter Monday last season. Afobe is still Kenny Jackett’s top scorer. His last appearance for Wolves came on New Year’s Day.

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