Daniel Farke says Leeds United must be ‘pragmatic’ with defender’s minutes as fixtures clash

Leeds United manager Daniel Farke admits there is a slim possibility the likes of Charlie Cresswell and other fringe first-team players will be permitted to appear for the Under-21s this weekend.

Cresswell is without a Leeds appearance since a late cameo against Queens Park Rangers last month and has been left out of Farke’s 20-man matchday squads in recent weeks, but is unlikely to feature during Friday night’s Premier League 2 contest between Leeds’ U21s and Crystal Palace’s youngsters.

The game is scheduled to be played at the same time as the senior squad’s table-topping encounter with Leicester City, giving rise to the suggestion that certain fringe players in need of regular minutes could feature for the reserve side.

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Farke stated in his pre-match press conference on Wednesday afternoon that Leeds must be ‘pragmatic’ in their team selection.

“Once we have a bit tricky schedule and we play [every] three days, we are careful to send too many players into the U21s,” he told the YEP ahead of Friday night’s double-header.

Farke cited the involvement of fringe first-team striker Mateo Joseph in recent Under-21 fixtures as being down to the fact the England youth international desperately needed minutes following an interrupted start to the season due to injury. Joseph has scored two in two for Michael Skubala’s youngsters, although Farke considers the Spanish-born forward a candidate to appear in the first-team if the situation permits it.

So far this season, due to the availability and form of Georginio Rutter, coupled with Patrick Bamford’s return to fitness, Joseph’s senior minutes have been severely limited.

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Cresswell, meanwhile, has represented England’s Under-21s during October and is, in Farke’s mind, closer to full match fitness than his Three Lions counterpart.

“We make a decision day-to-day. I think it’s important with those players likely to be involved in first-team games, to be a bit more careful with game-time in 21s. We have to make pragmatic decisions,” Farke added.

Cresswell could return to the Whites’ matchday squad this weekend as insurance if Joe Rodon is not cleared to play 90 minutes following his substitution against Huddersfield Town last weekend. The Welshman complained of a hamstring issue midway through the second half of Leeds’ 4-1 win and was quickly brought off. He has trained this week, according to Farke, and will be available if there is ‘no reaction’ to team training on Wednesday.

Leeds’ Championship game with Leicester kicks off at 8pm on Friday night, an hour after the Under-21s play host to Crystal Palace at York’s LNER Community Stadium.