Leeds United: Friendlies will give Monk pointers for new season

Stuart Dallas.
Stuart Dallas.
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IN the space of the next 36 hours Garry Monk’s thoughts on the best line-up available to him might become a little clearer.

The split of players in back-to-back friendlies against Guiseley and Peterbourgh United should offer some clues about how Leeds United’s head coach sees his team evolving.

Monk is sending senior players to both matches, a 7.45pm kick-off at Nethermoor this evening and a 3pm start at London Road tomorrow. After two friendlies in Ireland last week, he will put members of his squad through full 90-minute appearances, increasing the workload ahead of a final warm-up match against Atalanta next weekend.

The 37-year-old, however, was keeping his cards close to his chest last night, denying that either of the line-ups fielded will constitute his strongest team.

“We’re looking to get all of the players 90 minutes,” Monk said. “That’s the most important thing from the physical side of it.

“I’ve used this period to really understand who can play in what roles. That’s still the case in terms of these two games – we’re looking at partnerships and different combinations.

“It’ll be two mixed teams for these two games. There are ideas behind it, which I’ll keep to myself, but the most important part is that they get 90 minutes under their belt.”

Defenders Liam Cooper and Gaetano Berardi remain doubtful with minor injuries sustained during United’s tour to Dublin but Monk has Stuart Dallas available for the first time.

Dallas, who married his partner earlier this summer, was given time off for a honeymoon after playing for Northern Ireland in the European Championships but he travelled to Ireland to watch Leeds’ second friendly against Shamrock Rovers and has trained at Thorp Arch all week.

The winger was one of United’s most expensive signings last summer and one of their more effective players in the season that followed.

Five goals, including a classy brace at Birmingham City in April, were enough to rank him as Leeds’ third highest scorer behind Chris Wood and Mirco Antenucci.

The club were just as grateful for his six assists from out wide.

Monk said: “The summer hasn’t really stopped for him but he’s had a break and he needed a break.

“It was the right thing to do and I’m used to dealing with this because we had a lot of international players at Swansea. You’ve got to get the balance right and you’ve got to be mindful of how much international football can take out of you.

“In these little breaks players always lose a bit of sharpness and fitness, but he’s not going to be far behind everyone else.”

Peterborough, who finished 13th in League One in May, are the stronger of the sides pitted against Leeds tonight and tomorrow.

Guiseley, under the management of former Bradford City defender Mark Bower, avoided relegation from the National League by a single point last season, sending Halifax Town down in the process.

Ticket sales for the friendly at Nethermoor closed yesterday. United have been allocated 4,000 tickets for tomorrow’s trip to London Road.