Leeds United v Preston North End: Midfield pair to miss Elland Road clash

Liam Bridcutt.
Liam Bridcutt.
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Liam Bridcutt and Mateusz Klich have been left out of tomorrow’s clash with Preston North End as Leeds United head coach Thomas Christiansen grapples with the “good headache” of picking from his squad.

Christiansen revealed that the midfielders would miss the Preston game and said he was still debating the choice between Pablo Hernandez and Samuel Saiz at number 10 after the pair made compelling starts to the season.

Mateusz Klich.

Mateusz Klich.

Hernandez was an influential presence in Sunday’s 3-2 win at Bolton Wanderers, Leeds’ first game of the Championship season, but Saiz – United’s recent signing from Huesca – upped the ante with a hat-trick on his debut in Wednesday’s League Cup victory over Port Vale.

Bridcutt was also used in the second half of the midweek tie, coming on from the bench to help Leeds into the second round, but he failed to make the bench against Bolton amid a clutch of central midfielders at Elland Road and will be surplus again tomorrow afternoon.

Klich, meanwhile, made his first competitive outing against Port Vale but saw his summer affected by injury following his arrival from FC Twente and Christiansen plans to restrict the Pole’s involvement until he reaches full match fitness.

The Leeds boss also hinted at another start for Hernandez at Elland Road by admitting that Saiz was still short of peak condition.

“It’s a headache that I have and also with the midfielders,” said Christiansen, whose side are looking for a third straight win.

“I left Liam Bridcutt out, a hard decision, but I had to look at it like the game against Bolton. I had to see the positions in the 18 and I had to cover my back in case anything happens - if the score is up, if the score is down, to find solutions during the game.

“They are hard decisions and they are not good for everyone but the headache I have with Pablo and Samu is a good one. I’m very pleased with the performance of Samu the other day but he still needs to improve physically. We are doing some work to get him in a better position.

“I had to leave Mateusz out also. It’s a decision I’ve taken because of the position but also because he missed pre-season. When he gets the possibility (to play), I want him to have it in his best possible condition.”

Conor Shaughnessy, the former Reading youngster who has provided cover at centre-back, is likely to be on the bench again despite Pontus Jansson’s return from a three-match ban.

Jansson has not played in a competitive fixture for Leeds since their season-ending 3-3 draw with Norwich City in April but he completed his suspension during Wednesday’s League Cup win.

On-loan Everton defender Matthew Pennington remains on the sidelines with an ankle injury, leaving Liam Cooper as Christiansen’s only other experienced centre-back. Full-back Gaetano Berardi is also out after dislocating his shoulder at Bolton.

Christiansen said he was yet to be told exactly how long Pennington and Berardi would be missing but said their respective comebacks would “take time.”

The setbacks have failed to dampen an impressive first week for United’s boss, who came to the job as a largely unknown figure when Leeds appointed him in June.

A crowd in excess of 30,000 will be present for the meeting with Preston and Christiansen said: “When you win, everything is easier. You have confidence that things are working properly. We have seen that the players understand our game already.”