The Chalkboard: Jack Clarke must start against Derby in order to exploit major weakness

Leeds United face Derby County in the playoff semi-finals this week in what is sure to be a tactical battle of wits between Marcelo Bielsa and Frank Lampard.

The two gaffers have proven themselves to be a couple of the brightest minds in the division this season, but there is one clear change Bielsa needs to implement to gain an advantage against the Rams.

Exploit Ashley Cole

With news emerging that Ashley Cole is back fit ahead of the playoffs, Lampard may slot his former Chelsea teammate back into the starting XI straight away.

He may go down as one of the best left-backs in history, but aged 38 his legs aren’t quite what they used to be. Pace is the England legend’s main weakness these days, and Bielsa will know precisely how to exploit that.

The Argentine is the master of pre-match preparation, and he will know exactly how to get the better of Derby if they choose to start the veteran at the weekend.

Clarke must start

The Whites’ usual starter on the right wing is Pablo Hernandez. The Spaniard is one of the most tricky and creative players in the league but starting him against the experienced left-back would be a colossal error.

For all Hernandez’s talent, he isn’t amongst the fastest player’s at Elland Road. The former Arsenal defender would be able to keep tabs on the 34-year-old and starting Hernandez on the wing would play right into the Rams’ hands.

Therefore, despite his dip in form as of late, Jack Clarke should start on the right wing whilst Leeds’ Player of the Season should slot in as a number 10.

The 18-year-old is 20 years younger than Cole and has a considerable speed advantage over the former England international. Where the defender would be comfortable when coming up against Hernandez, he would struggle to keep up with Clarke.

The winger is usually deployed on the left, but Bielsa should move him out to the opposite flank to exploit the Derby full-back’s biggest weakness.