Off the back of two successive agonising defeats – and both for different reasons – Leeds United face the daunting task of games against Arsenal, Liverpool and a resurgent Aston Villa before the end of the year.
Marcelo Bielsa’s side were hammered 7-0 by Manchester City in their latest outing, and host Arsenal knowing that they are firmly in that battle to beat the drop.
Injuries have derailed the Whites’ hopes of enjoying another impressive year in the top-flight, but while that is understandably a cause for concern, it can also be a blessing in disguise in other respects: namely, handing an opportunity to some of the club’s brightest young prospects.
Joe Gelhardt has already had his share of first-team football in recent weeks, and now, Cody Drameh should surely be in the frame for a starting spot.
Jamie Shackleton occupied that right-back slot against City before being taken off, and when you consider Bielsa ought to be putting square pegs in square holes, Drameh must figure into the equation for that role going forward.
Indeed, The Athletic’s Phil Hay has even suggested that the 20-year-old could well be the long-term heir to Luke Ayling.
He said: “The point about Drameh was that he could be a natural successor to Ayling, who still has time left but is clearly not in his first flush of youth. Drameh is well thought of and I do feel like he’s got a serious chance here if he’s patient.”
While naturally much of the excitement of Leeds fans will be surrounding Gelhardt, Drameh is another from the U23s group who could really make a name for himself at Elland Road.
At just 20, the versatile ace has got plenty of time to grow and develop, but first-team minutes could be more on offer now that the Whites find themselves in such an injury crisis.
Eredivisie scout Xander Wilkinson was quick to rave about his potential and how good he is already, saying: “Defensively so impressive! His mind works quicker than most right-backs I’ve seen in a naturally defensive mindset. Tactically very aware of what is being asked of him, times his engagements well, needs to add a little more unpredictability going forward.”
Meanwhile, LUTV commentator Tom Hill described the 20-year-old as a “box of tricks” after an impressive performance against Sunderland at U23 level, and that bodes well for his future as a more adventurous full-back.
With the busy festive schedule taking its toll on Leeds’ players, Drameh could finally be unleashed by Bielsa in the Premier League.