'It's all planned out' - Mark Jackson lifts lid on Leeds United U23s selection for Premier League Cup game
Head coach Mark Jackson shares his selection strategy as a dozen players are away representing their country.
Leeds United fans will get a glimpse of some of the talent progressing towards the Under 23s when Mark Jackson pits a young side against Wigan Athletic in the Premier League Cup tomorrow.
Jackson is missing 12 of his regular squad who are away on international duty.
Skipper Charlie Cresswell is away with England Under-21s. After missing out on their opening game to Romania due to COVID-19 cases in their camp, Lee Carsley's side will face Kosovo in Milton Keynes on Tuesday evening, meaning Cresswell will have to hand the Whites' armband over for the Premier League cup tie.
Meanwhile England Under-20s representatives Cody Drameh, Joe Gelhardt, Sam Greenwood and Lewis Bate are recovering from a 6-1 victory over Romania Under-20s on Monday. All four featured in the win, with Gelhardt impressing on his U20s debut by scoring a brace.
Mark Jackson's first choice keeper Kristoffer Klaesson is in Estonia for a Norway Under-21s fixture on Tuesday, after playing in a 3-1 win over Austria on Friday.
But Jackson always anticipated fielding a young team for the tie, and sees the absences caused by the international break as an opportunity for development.
"We've got a Premier League Cup game [vs Wigan], so we'll be young in that competition," Jackson told the YEP.
"It was always planned. We can test some of the Under-18s going into that and see how they're shaping up. A few of the 18s coaches can get a feel for how we work as well, so it's all planned out.
"When we're missing that amount of players [due to international call ups], it gives us time for the lads to kind of work individually and we can do that with some players.
"We can work on areas where they need to get better, work on areas they're good at already and use individualised programs so players can have that time to develop."
With Elia Caprile out on loan and his replacement Klaesson away with Norway Under-21s, 17-year-old goalkeeper Harry Christy could be among those younger players benefitting from the international break and gaining his first appearance for the Whites Under-23s.
Jackson's options for out-and-out attackers are also thin, which may put 17-year-old Max Dean centre stage as a lone striker, having played only nine minutes of Premier League 2 action this season.
Following the conclusion of his stint with Norway Under-19s, centre-back Leo Hjelde could make his debut for Leeds after arriving at Thorp Arch this summer from Celtic, appearing alongside young defender Kris Moore who, at 17, has already bagged substantial PL2 experience.
Alongside Under 18 prospects, there's a handful of Jackson's first-teamers who haven't been called away to represent their country and are available to play the cup tie. PL2 regular Nohan Kenneh would offer a steady counterpart to the relative inexperience of Hjelde and Moore.
Of the older players available, Crysencio Summerville and Liam McCarron would shore up the team with experience, having both been named in Marcelo Bielsa's senior squad this season.
Predicted XI: Harry Christy, Kris Moore, Nohan Kenneh, Leo Hjelde, Stuart McKinstry, Jack Jenkins, Liam McCarron, Crysencio Summerville, Sean McGurk, Amari Miller, Max Dean.
Support the YEP and become a subscriber today. Enjoy unlimited access to local news and the latest on Leeds United. With a digital subscription, you see fewer ads, enjoy faster load times, and get access to exclusive newsletters and content. Click HERE to subscribe.