Leeds United: 50-1 shots, Bailey Peacock-Farrell and changes for Wolves - Talking Points

AFTER seeing Leeds United fall to a seventh defeat from their last 12 games, Lee Sobot looks at a few key talking points following Friday night's 3-0 loss at Middlesbrough.
TUSSLE: Leeds United's Stuart Dallas, centre, and Eunan O'Kane, right, try to hunt down Middlesbrough's former Whites player Adam Clayton. Picture by Bruce Rollinson.TUSSLE: Leeds United's Stuart Dallas, centre, and Eunan O'Kane, right, try to hunt down Middlesbrough's former Whites player Adam Clayton. Picture by Bruce Rollinson.
TUSSLE: Leeds United's Stuart Dallas, centre, and Eunan O'Kane, right, try to hunt down Middlesbrough's former Whites player Adam Clayton. Picture by Bruce Rollinson.

Have United blown their play-offs hopes?

The previous weekend’s much-needed win against Brentford had left United just three points behind Middlesbrough and Friday night’s clash at The Riverside presented the Whites with a crucial opportunity to make big inroads on the top six and another play-offs rival.

Yet it has proved a case of worst-case scenario for Leeds with defeat at Boro compounded by wins for play-offs chasers Bristol City and Preston North End on Saturday afternoon.

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Leeds have now dropped to 12th - behind Millwall - and United are eight points off the play-offs with 11 games to go.

The gap will become nine points if Sheffield United win their game in hand which is at home to Burton Albion.

There’s still time, but both head coach Paul Heckingbottom and midfielder Eunan O’Kane admitted the Whites were way off a top six team based on Friday night’s display and United are in danger of any play-offs dreams being over in early April unless results and performances considerably improve, even if last season’s events prove that the picture can dramatically change.

Leeds rare now 50-1 to finish in the play-offs and that looks about right.

Is it time to play Bailey Peacock-Farrell?

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Whites ‘keeper Felix Wiedwald again looked all at sea during Friday night’s display and his confidence looked particularly shot in the second half.

It is pretty obvious that United need to address their goalkeeping situation and immediately so, even with no 2 shotstopper Andy Lonergan still out with a neck injury though in any case Lonergan himself has hardly proved bombproof this term.

With Lonergan failing to make the squad at the Riverside through his injury, 21-year-old Bailey Peacock-Farrell sat on the bench and there are now calls for the youngster to be given starts before the end of the campaign.

Stepping into nets for just your second league start against the league leaders Wolves on Wednesday would clearly be a big ask and a baptism of fire but with Wiedwald looking nowhere near what United need at present it could be worth a go.

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It will surely also be not be long before Whites head coach Paul Heckingbottom opts to give some of the other clubs youngsters an outing with left back Tom Pearce probably top of the queue in light of United’s problems in that department.

Heckingbottom has said that the club’s youngsters will need to earn their opportunities but plenty of United’s current first-teamers are hardly advertising their claims at present themselves.

Adam Forshaw, Matthew Pennington and other changes for Wolves

Forshaw missed the previous weekend’s win against Brentford due to his wife giving birth to the couple’s baby boy but the midfielder was back available for Friday night’s clash though only made the bench.

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That looked an odd call though Heckingbottom explained that he wanted to reward the team that beat Brentford by naming an unchanged side and that meant Eunan O’Kane and Kalvin Phillips keeping their places in centre midfield.

But sadly Leeds were totally overrun in that department and it was inevitable considering how things were going that Forshaw and Ronalo Vieira would be brought in the second half.

Put simply, Forshaw looks United’s best centre midfielder by a distance at present and Heckingbottom must surely also be considering starting Vieira against Wolves as something needs to change pronto though United are still yet to explore the option of playing Vurnon Anita in his natural position of centre midfield and time is running out to give other options a go.

With United’s defence also troubled throughout by Boro, now might well be the time to give Everton loanee Matthew Pennington some starts next to Pontus Jansson at the back.

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What with the continued problems at left back and the goalkeeper situation, it will be fascinating to see how many changes Heckingbottom makes for the visit of Wolves, especially if Pablo Hernandez and Kemar Roofe are back available after injury.

Striker Caleb Ekuban, left back Laurens De Bock and wingers Pawel Cibicki and Hadi Sacko are among the other options that United’s head coach could explore but moreover the fact that United’s squad needs significant investment in the summer is quite clear.