Thomas Christiansen admitted he was a long way from establishing his first-choice line-up as Leeds United prepared for their third pre-season friendly away at North Ferriby United tonight.
Leeds’ head coach plans to put most of his players through another 45-minute outing this evening with a view to increasing the intensity of their outings during the club’s forthcoming tour of Austria.
Christiansen fielded different line-ups at the start of each half in wins over Harrogate Town and Guiseley last week, mixing his players up and giving no early hints about a preferred XI.
Leeds start the new Championship season in less than four weeks’ time but have five friendlies remaining this summer, including three in Austria against Ingolstadt, Borussia Monchengladbach and Eibar.
Those fixtures represent a major step up from three back-to-back meetings with non-league opposition and Christiansen’s tactics will begin to take shape during 10 days on the continent.
Asked if United’s victories last week had started to establish a selection order, Christiansen said: “No. I’ve changed both teams in the first two games and in the next game they will get 45 minutes again.
“After that we will start giving a little bit more time to some players.
“New players will arrive as well. We have to handle all of these situations.”
Striker Chris Wood resumed training at Thorp Arch on Monday after an extended spell away on the back of international duty with New Zealand but Christiansen could delay his first pre-season appearance until Sunday’s meeting with Ingolstadt in Kufstein.
Pontus Jansson and Eunan O’Kane were left out of the win over with Harrogate last Wednesday having made late returns to training and Vurnon Anita watched from the sidelines at Guiseley 48 hours after signing for Leeds.
The former Newcastle United midfielder is likely to be involved at North Ferriby this evening but the game will come too soon for new signing Caleb Ekuban
Liam Cooper and Hadi Sacko sustained minor knocks during Saturday’s 5-1 victory at Guiseley and injury forced Polish midfielder Mateusz Klich to miss that game.
Christiansen warned against gambling on the fitness of his players, saying: “If we risk (Klich) now and he gets injured again, he will lose the whole of pre-season.
“If you don’t have the balance, the basic fitness from pre-season, you will suffer over the whole season.”
Tonight’s friendly is the first of three in three days for North Ferriby who are building up to the new National League North season following their relegation in April. The club planned to commit their senior players to the visit of Leeds and use trialists and juniors in meetings with Brigg Town and Barton Town.
Scunthorpe United put six unanswered goals past North Ferriby on Saturday and Leeds have scored nine times during their wins over Harrogate and Guiseley.
North Ferriby manager Steve Housham said: “It’s a big test for the players but it’s also a big opportunity for them. They’ll be determined to show how good they are.”