Leeds United's surprise faces on flight to Oz, unclaimed seats and who will be 'home alone'

Leeds United fly to the Gold Coast on July 10 and there are still seats up for grabs.

By Graham Smyth
Friday, 1st July 2022, 6:55 am

Kalvin Phillips won’t be on the flight, neither in all likelihood will Raphinha and nor, perhaps to the relief of anyone seeking any slumber on the way to Australia, will Gjanni Alioski. Although the free spirited free agent is not a player for whom anything can ever be ruled out, there’s currently nothing doing in terms of a move back to Leeds.

But there could yet be a new face or two settling down in the business-class seats for the long haul, particularly if things with Raphinha advance to such a stage over the next few days that Leeds know there’s another big chunk of money coming in.

Victor Orta is in the process of lining things up when it comes to the three key positions the Whites want to strengthen and so it is not impossible that he could get one or two of his men in before the boarding gate closes, or even have them running through the airport last minute, McCallister family style.

Orta, though, is the Kevin of the piece. He will be staying home, not quite alone, in order to be in position to continue with any transfer business that Leeds need to get done. CEO Angus Kinnear will also be at Elland Road for the duration, to keep the Spaniard company and the company running.

The expectation is for Raphinha to follow Phillips out the door and the hope is that the three bodies Leeds then bring in will arrive in timely enough fashion to play some part at least Down Under. That would be Marsch’s ideal scenario, in order to get his hands on something akin to his strongest line-up as early as humanly possible.

As for who will definitely go on the two-week tour, there are plenty of tickets already with names on, most of which will come as no surprise. The fit and available seniors who played a part in keeping the Whites in the Premier League will be there to take on Aston Villa, Brisbane Roar and Crystal Palace.

Those who reported to Leeds Beckett on Monday for pre-season testing, like Rodrigo, Robin Koch, Pascal Struijk, are booked in. The internationals, like Illan Meslier, Liam Cooper and new boys Brenden Aaronson and Rasmus Kristensen, will jet in this weekend to be examined by the doctors and sports scientists next Monday and then prepare to jet out again the following weekend.

SURPRISE FACE - Kalvin Phillips won't be on Leeds United's flight to Australia but Leif Davis has played a full part in pre-season training so far after returning from Bournemouth. Pic: Getty

The youngsters like Joe Gelhardt, Crysencio Summerville and Sam Greenwood who can now, in Marsch’s eyes at least, count themselves very much part of that first-team group, will join their longer-in-the-tooth colleagues.

There will be a surprise face or two on the flight, though. Leif Davis was, 11 months ago, very much on his way out of Elland Road for a loan spell at Bournemouth that held the promise of a permanent move, and yet is back and playing a full part in training under Marsch.

Having caught the eye of the American, it now seems Davis will stay, too, and, as he heads into the final year of his contract, he has a chance to show Marsch and everyone else at Leeds that he’s well worth persisting with.

Helder Costa is another who could find himself on the plane. The winger is part of the international group coming back on Monday, thanks to his involvement with Angola at the end of a disappointing loan season at Valencia.

And, while a move cannot be ruled out, Marsch will run the rule over the winger. He remains popular with the senior players at Leeds and there would be no complaints if he once again joined their number. He, like Davis, has a chance.

Another group of players could, over the next week, see their chance of flying to Australia nosediving although, in return, they’ll receive opportunities to play more football than they would at Leeds next season.

Among those for whom loans are being discussed with interested parties are Jamie Shackleton, Charlie Cresswell, Jack Jenkins, Stuart McKinstry and Tyler Roberts.

Several clubs want Shackleton, and why not? He’s shown real potential at Leeds but, more than that, he’s proved reliable in so many games that he could step right into many second-tier squads and do a decent job.

For him, the task isn’t so much to show that he’s got the ability, his challenge is to make clubs believe in his durability.

Niggles have been the bane of the 22-year-old’s last couple of seasons so, if he can stay on the pitch between August and November, then those seeking to take him on loan may be persuaded to take him permanently.

He, along with the rest of the potential outgoing loanees, needs minutes. Roberts needs minutes and goals so that, in a year’s time, he’s stepping onto a plane as the player some believe he can be and a player Leeds not only want but need on their 2023 pre-season trip.