Striker Grot set for rare Leeds United start in Newport County FA Cup test

DEVELOPMENT squad quartet Jack Clarke, Oriol Rey, Liam Kitching and Tom Pearce could travel with Leeds United for Sunday's third round FA Cup tie at Newport County in which striker Jay-Roy Grot will be handed a rare start.

Friday, 5th January 2018, 1:43 pm
Updated Friday, 5th January 2018, 1:45 pm
Jay-Roy Grot. Picture: Bruce Rollinson

Clarke, Rey, Kitching and Pearce were all omitted from United’s Under-23 matchday squad that took on Burnley at Thorp Arch on Friday and Whites head coach Thomas Christiansen admitted that all four were in his thoughts for Sunday’s clash at Rodney Parade.

The Whites head coach also confirmed that teenage striker Grot would definitely start on Sunday and that Ronaldo Vieira, Stuart Dallas, Luke Ayling and Caleb Ekuban will miss out through injury.

Asked about the likelihood of playing Clarke, Rey and midfielder Madger Gomes, who also missed the Under-23 clash, Christiansen said: “It’s a possibility.

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Leeds United's Tom Pearce. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe

“Jack Clarke, Oriol, Kitching and Tom (Clarke) is there. They are players who can have the possibility to travel with the team.

“There will be some changes, of course. After the hard programme we have had, it’s a moment to give the time and minutes to other players who deserve it and who didn’t have the possibility to get there.

“But I am not concerned about that and I know they are going to make a good performance and they will be 100 per cent ready for this game.”

On Dutch striker Grot, Christiansen added: “He will play.”

Leeds United's Tom Pearce. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe

Running through United’s quartet of injuries, Christiansen said midfielder Vieira had been suffering from knee problems since taking a knock in the Boxing Day win at Burton Albion, although he has been back training on his own this week.

“He’s looking very good,” said Christiansen. “Probably next week he will join the group.”

Winger Dallas, meanwhile, has missed United’s last eight games with an ankle injury but Christiansen said: “Stuart Dallas is even closer to joining the team. He has been doing a lot of things outside so he has joined the team.”

The full extent of right-back Ayling’s injury is not yet fully known, although the defender took to his own Instagram page earlier this week to say a knee injury picked up in the goalless draw at home to Nottingham Forest was “nothing serious”.

Christiansen said: “We are still making some tests to see how it will go with him, but it doesn’t look so bad.”

Providing an update on striker Ekuban, who is recovering from a dislocated bone in his foot, Christiansen said: “It’s going in progress. We said it would take some time to get him back and he is still inside the schedule.”