Leeds United: Wood, Dallas and five-hour shut-out - post-Sunderland talking points

STRONG SHOWING: Liam Cooper played a vital role in helping Leeds United to another clean sheet. Picture by Bruce Rollinson.
STRONG SHOWING: Liam Cooper played a vital role in helping Leeds United to another clean sheet. Picture by Bruce Rollinson.
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AFTER seeing Leeds United record their third clean sheet in a row at the Stadium of Light, Lee Sobot looks at a few key talking points from the 2-0 sucess against Sunderland.

How will Leeds replace Chris Wood?

Start with by far the most burning issue which concerns how United will spend the £15m plus add-ons that the club will receive for selling Wood to Burnley.

Judging by the words of head coach Thomas Christiansen in the game’s aftermath, there seems no doubt that Wood will be replaced in this window and nor should there be.

More to the point, it remains to be seen if Leeds attempt to bring in one new striker or two with the dosh pocketed from Wood’s move to Turf Moor

When Wood is gone, the Whites will have just three recognised first team strikers at the club and one of those, Kemar Roofe, has been used by Leeds primarily as a winger.

Moreover, playing the lone striker role used in United’s 4-2-3-1 system hardly seems to suit Roofe’s strengths.

Another remaining striking option at the club is Souleymane Doukara but the 25-year-old seems firmly out of favour and failed to even earn a place on the bench on Saturday.

That leaves just the very inexperienced Caleb Ekuban who was given the difficult task of replacing Wood on Saturday and had to hobble off injured after 62 minutes to be replaced by Dallas.

But whatever the extent of Ekuban’s injury, Leeds surely need to bring in two strikers before the summer window closes on August 31.

What will prove United’s first-choice pairing at centre-back?

Having looked painfully short of options at centre-back after first Matthew Pennington and then Liam Cooper became injured, a rather rosier picture is emerging at the back.

Four days after surprise package Conor Shaughnessy had excelled next to Pontus Jansson in Cooper’s absence against Fulham, Cooper returned in style at the Stadium of Light.

The 25-year-old received a fair bit of criticism last season when clearly behind Kyle Bartley and Jansson in the centre-back pecking order but Cooper looks an improved player this term based on his displays against Preston and Sunderland in particular which both resulted in clean sheets.

Highly-rated Everton loanee Pennington is likely to be out until after the international break with his ankle injury but at this rate the 22-year-old will have a serious battle on to walk straight back into the team.

Cooper’s header to ensure that Lewis Grabban’s rising shot hit the crossbar was particularly impressive.

Leeds have now kept three clean sheets in a row - in the league matches against Preston, Fulham and Sunderland - and United have not conceded a goal in over five hours.

Excluding stoppage time, the Whites have played 324 minutes of football since Michael Tonge netted for Port Vale in the first round Carabao Cup tie.

Should Stuart Dallas start?

Christiansen now looks to have another option on the wing as it were with Pablo Hernandez now being deployed in that position with the deeply impressive Samu Saiz quite rightfully becoming first choice no 10.

Winger Gianni Alioski is also continuing to impress and is currently a banker to start on the opposite flank.

With Hadi Sacko failing to impress, that leaves a choice between Hernandez, Roofe or Dallas on the other side and Dallas again advertised his claims by netting United’s second goal with a stylish header after coming on as a second-half substitute for the injured Ekuban as Roofe was sent upfront.

By then, Roofe had already been on the pitch for 37 minutes after he himself replaced Hernandez who picked up an injury in the 25th minute.

Hernandez’s injury did not look serious but either way, Christiansen has a real welcome headache as to who should start out wide.

Dallas remains out of contract at the end of the season and Leeds will surely be tempted to offer the very reliable 26-year-old a new deal.

Departures imminent?

Striker-chasing Leeds are clearly expected to be busy in the remaining 11 days of the summer transfer window but departures from Elland Road are also almost certainly on the cards.

First and foremost, last season’s skipper Liam Bridcutt looks set to join Nottingham Forest within the next 24 hours after again failing to make the match-day 18 at Sunderland.

Christiansen rates the 28-year-old as a decent squad player but the midfielder will understandably want first team football and Leeds are willing to let the midfielder go.

Thereafter, Doukara and the firmly out-of-the picture Toumani Diagouraga are two other players for whom a departure is not difficult to envisage and the real interesting one remains Rob Green.

New first choice ‘keeper Felix Wiedwald definitely seems to be improving each week and there seems little chance of Green getting back in the side at present, even if Tuesday night’s Carabao Cup clash with Newport County at Elland Road might present a chance.

At 37, whether Green will be content to sit on the bench as far as league games are concerned remains to be seen.

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