Ex-Leeds United manager gives selection debate verdict after decisive showing in play-off semi-final

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
Daniel Farke could have something of a selection headache on his hands ahead of Leeds United’s play-off final

Joel Piroe might just have done enough to secure his spot in Daniel Farke's starting XI for next week's Championship play-off final. That's the belief of former Leeds United manager Paul Heckingbottom, who admits Piroe's showing against Norwich City on Thursday left him reassessing who he thinks should lead the line for the Whites at Wembley against Southampton.

With Patrick Bamford continuing to struggle with minor patella trauma, Piroe was given the nod to spearhead United's attack against the Canaries and what followed was arguably one of his brightest performances in a Leeds shirt. The Dutchman scored his 14th goal of the season with a cushioned header in the first half to help put Leeds into a commanding lead.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

He also played his part in Leeds' dynamic front four to perfection, causing issues for Norwich with his off the ball runs and linking up well with the likes of Georginio Rutter, Crysencio Summerville and Wilfried Gnonto behind him. In fact, had his finishing been a touch sharper he could have bagged one or two more on the night.

However, his place in the side is far from secure, especially with Bamford, who has been Daniel Farke's preferred man for much of the season, pushing to return to full fitness in time for the final. It seems the German could have something of a selection dilemma over the next few days then, but Heckingbottom's mind is made up.

"If you asked me before the game I would have said Bamford and I know Piroe scored today I thought he was unselfish in the role he played," Heckingbottom, who has been out of work since leaving Sheffield United earlier this season, told Sky Sports about who should start up front for Leeds.

Get a personalised Leeds United news round-up when you sign up for our free Leeds United newsletter email.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"He occupied the two centre-backs and allowed Rutter to play in front of him and when the ball came across to the right, he quickly got himself across the pitch between the two centre-backs to occupy them while Rutter, Gnonto picked up the space. Slightly different in terms of what he would normally do but he performed the role brilliantly for the team."

Leeds have just over a week to wait until the play-off final but Heckingbottom believes Farke will be quick to shift his players focus onto the prize that awaits the winner of next Sunday's clash in the capital.

"It's about sending a message and getting the mentality right for the next game," he added. "It's a difficult spell now, it's 10 days before the next game and you want to shift that focus quickly onto that. Now the lads will be recovering from this game tonight but then it's getting next week as close to a normal week as they possibly can."