FRESH from the long trip to Luton Town to see Leeds United progress to the third round of the EFL Cup, Lee Sobot looks at a few talking points highlighted by last night’s clash at Kenilworth Road.
How will Garry Monk nurture Tyler Denton?
Left-back Denton proved a revelation on his first start in a Whites shirt yesterday evening, and there was much more to his performance than his sublime 23rd-minute goal. The 20-year-old put in an assured performance throughout and on this evidence the Dewsbury-born full back would have no problems becoming a first-team regular. But there seems little chance of Denton leapfrogging Charlie Taylor for the number one left-back slot and head coach Garry Monk is confident that Taylor will still be with the club after the summer transfer window, despite requesting a transfer.
That means Denton’s immediate prospects of becoming a first-team regular look to be on hold for the time being though Taylor looks destined to leave United in the long run with his contract expiring next summer. Judging by last night’s display, Leeds already have a long-term replacement ready to step up from within. In the meantime, it will be interesting to see how much more game time Denton earns over the next few months.
Are we looking at 11 more changes versus Nottingham Forest?
Monk raised eyebrows by making 11 changes for last night’s cup clash, resting the entire team that started in Saturday’s 2-0 Championship success at Sheffield Wednesday.
The head coach insisted that the XI fielded from the outset at Hillsborough had not fully recovered from those exertions. But Rob Green, Luke Ayling, Kyle Bartley, Liam Cooper, Charlie Taylor, Ronaldo Vieira, Liam Bridcutt, Alex Mowatt, Chris Wood, Marcus Antonsson and Hadi Sacko should now be raring to go ahead of this coming Saturday’s Championship trip to Nottingham Forest.
Of that XI, Mowatt was given 22 minutes at the end of yesterday’s cup clash, with Cooper on for the last 16. Aside from Denton who is certainly behind Taylor in the left-back pecking order, no other player stood out to such an extent that their claims to start on Saturday were impossible to ignore – the possible exceptions being Stuart Dallas and potentially Marco Silvestri. It seems likely that Monk will stick with Green in goal though a gradually returning to form Dallas might now be preferred to Mowatt for a spot on the wing. Kemar Roofe and Pontus Jansson also performed with much credit at Kenilworth Road but whether they did enough to warrant being picked above any of the excellent first XI at Hillsborough - and in this example Sacko and either Bartley or Cooper – is doubtful. The gut feeling is that Monk will revert to something very close to the team that started at Sheffield Wednesday, though the head coach will be delighted to have a ‘reserve’ XI that are also clearly capable of grinding out results.
Has Toumani Diagouraga played his last game for Leeds?
‘Toums’ has not featured for Leeds since a disappointing display in the season-opening 3-0 loss at Queens Park Rangers, with the 29-year-old failing to even make the bench for the games against Fleetwood Town, Birmingham City, Fulham, Sheffield Wednesday and now Luton.
If Diagouraga was a long term part of Monk’s plans then the likelihood is he would have at least been named as part of the match day squad for the clash at Kenilworth Road. His complete omission, assuming he is fully fit of which there is no reason to suggest otherwise, spells ominous signs for the defensive midfielder’s future. On the other hand, Luke Murphy, who had also been frozen out recently, was handed a start at Luton but he was hauled off in the 58th-minute.
Both Murphy and Diagouaraga face uncertain futures, especially it seems Diagouraga who has been linked with a move to Rangers under Mark Warburton, the midfielder’s former boss at Brentford.
Who will United land in the third round draw?
The draw for the third round of the EFL Cup will take place this evening following the televised clash between Accrington and Burnley. And there is a strong chance that Leeds will be handed a clash against a Premier League big gun in what is now the last 32. The seven teams competing in Europe this season are introduced in the third round, namely Leicester City, Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester City, Manchester United, Southampton and West Ham.
Chelsea, Liverpool and Everton are also through.
Of the other top flight clubs, Stoke City, Hull City, Crystal Palace and intriguingly Monk’s former club Swansea City are also in the hat, in addition to Newcastle United which would be a tasty affair, while Gillingham and Northampton Town are the relative minnows through.
There are also still four games to be played this evening when Burnley, Middlesbrough, Bournemouth and Sunderland will look to join the whole host of top-flight clubs heading for the third round.
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