AFTER seeing Leeds United fall to a third loss in succession, the YEP's Lee Sobot looks at a few key talking points following Sunday's 2-1 loss at Queens Park Rangers in the FA Cup third round and has the final word on the loss at Loftus Road.
No major harm done
Sunday's defeat sent Leeds tumbling out of the FA Cup at their first hurdle meaning no excitement around the telly for tonight's fourth round draw.
Even with league matters and the club's Championship promotion bid quite clearly taking priority, skipper for the day Adam Forshaw insisted that the cup dumping should not be seen as a blessing in disguise in terms of less demands with the fixture schedule.
But with the remainder of the Championship campaign in mind, the main priority was ensuring that United picked up no new injuries or bans and it seems to have been mission accomplished on that score.
Better still, Whites head coach Marcelo Bielsa was able to offer valuable game time to plenty of the club's talented youngsters including first outings for Kun Temenuzhkov and Clarke Oduor from the bench though it was a bit late for either to make much of an impression.
Still, the experience will stand them in excellent stead and young defensive duo Leif Davis and Aapo Halme will benefit enormously from the outing against a very skilful and pacy Rs attack.
Forshaw admitted that a cup run would have been welcomed at Leeds, especially to offer further opportunities to the club's youngsters to blossom but that development will now have to take place for the under-23s.
A long overdue FA Cup run will have to wait for another year - a year when Leeds will hopefully be a Premier League side which is 100 per cent what matters most.
Are Leeds taking a chance in defence
Even without the rested Nahki Wells, a Hoops side featuring the likes of Aramide Oteh, Eberechi Eze and Bright Osayi-Samuel looked menacing every time they attacked, blessed with skill and pace.
The Rs are now unbeaten in their last six games - four of which have resulted in victory - and it would be no surprise at all if Steve McClaren's finished in the play-offs.
As such, it was no real surprise that a much-changed Whites defence proved unable to keep a clean sheet and but for Bailey Peacock-Farrell Leeds would have suffered a bit of a hiding.
But United have now conceded 12 goals in their last five games and yet Bielsa did not identify the defence as an area that needed strengthening in the January transfer window in his pre-match press conference.
Instead, the head coach specifically revealed he needed a 'keeper option to replace the injured Jamal Blackman and a winger to effectively replace the departed Samu Saiz with Pablo Hernandez now playing at no 10 having shifted from playing out wide. Leeds are known to be been on Hoffenheim winger Steven Zuber but there are other options too.
But defensively it must be remembered that two key cogs of the United back line in Liam Cooper and Gaetano Berardi have both been injured and arguably the biggest cog of all in Pontus Jansson was one of the Whites big guns to have been given the weekend off from United's cup tie.
Cooper will return from a five-week lay off when playing for United's under-23s on Monday evening and Berardi himself is gradually getting closer to returning from a ruptured hamstring tendon.
Bielsa readily admits Leeds currently have a problem defending set pieces but the head coach is basically baking on the return of Cooper and Berardi sorting the problem out with Stuart Dallas - who has been playing at left or right back - also now back in training after a foot injury.
It remains to be seen how long first choice left Barry Douglas is sidelined with his muscle injury.
But transfer-wise, Leeds are about to let another centre-back option in Conor Shaughnessy join Hearts on loan and there are naturally strong arguments for the club to add in that position instead.
Defiance from Bailey Peacock-Farrell
Peacock-Farrell's position in the team has been under intense scrutiny ever since Bielsa revealed that Chelsea loanee Blackman was set to be handed an opportunity in his place before breaking his leg playing for United's under-23s.
Leeds remain very much on the hunt for a new goalkeeping option with their interest in Newcastle United shotstopper Karl Darlow in particular well documented.
But Peacock-Farrell produced his best display for some time at Loftus Road with several terrific saves, albeit mixed in with a few mistakes too.
Still only 22 and having played just 38 games for Leeds, the 'keeper is still learning his trade and mistakes are going to happen but overall Sunday's display was a shot in the arm.
It seems fairly definite that Leeds will bring in a new 'keeper option meaning Peacock-Farrell will have another fight on to keep the no 1 jersey as it were but displays like Sunday's will stand him in good stead.
Starting Jamie Shackleton
In testing circumstances, there were several other encouraging performances and none more so than the display of 19-year-old Jamie Shackleton at right back.
Especially in the second half, the teen caused plenty of problems bombing forward, often breezing past opponents with ease and producing decent passes.
Jack Clarke is often regarded as the brightest star emerging from United's Academy at present and Clarke showed flashes of what he can do on his first start but it was Shackleton who impressed most.
Shackleton has already clocked up 15 appearances since making his debut at Derby County back in August - including three league starts - and the teen is pushing hard to become a regular.
It should also be remembered that despite playing at right back, Shackleton is more naturally a midfielder and there is a strong argument for him to be handed a role there assuming Luke Ayling takes his place back at right back when everyone is back fit.
Tyler Roberts also produced a pretty decent display in the no 10 role without exactly looking a better option than Hernandez but there is always the option to put Roberts there and Hernandez back out wide.
Plenty to ponder ahead of Friday's return to Championship action at home to sixth-placed Derby County as part of a huge weekend with second-placed Norwich City visiting fourth-placed West Brom on Saturday afternoon.
They are all big games at this stage but Friday night's contest at Elland Road is the biggest game of the season so far without a doubt.