With Leeds United heading into the final day of the Premier League season knowing that, whatever happens elsewhere, they simply must pick up all three points against Brentford if they are to have any hope of securing survival, Jesse Marsch will undoubtedly already be plotting out his potential starting XI for the trip to west London.
And, with all of Stuart Dallas, Adam Forshaw, Tyler Robers and Crysencio Summerville being ruled out of Sunday’s fixture due to injury, while both Luke Ayling and Daniel James will also be sidelined as a result of suspension, it is true that some of the 48-year-old manager’s team selections pick themselves.
This is not the case in attacking midfield – a position which the £58k-per-week Rodrigo usually fills. However, following the 31-year-old’s disastrous performance in the 1-1 draw with Brighton & Hove Albion last time out – not to mention a number of further disappointing displays in the weeks prior – whether or not Marsch will stick with the Spaniard this weekend is very much up in the air.
And, with Sam Greenwood sitting on the bench – a player who it is well known that Marsch is a huge fan of – it would seem as if the American coach not only possesses the answer to his attacking midfield conundrum for the Brentford game, but also following Rodrigo’s touted departure from Elland Road this summer.
Indeed, while it is true that the 20-year-old is naturally a centre-forward, he has often been deployed in the number 10 role for the U23s this season, striking up a deadly partnership with fellow Whites prodigy Joe Gelhardt in attack, with the duo having racked up a combined 16 goals and eight assists over 29 appearances for the Premier League 2 side.
And, regarding the positioning of Greenwood and Gelhardt, Marcelo Bielsa commented on the former’s ability to play a slightly deeper role, stating back in December: “His main position is as a centre forward. Normally he plays in conjunction with Gelhardt in the team.
“Gelhardt is a player that when he is close to the box is very dangerous and Greenwood is a player who has a lot of capacity to arrive into the free spaces. They can play either with Gelhardt in front and Greenwood behind or the other way round.”
As such, with it looking likely that Gelhardt will once again be deployed at centre-forward in the potential absence of Patrick Bamford this weekend, Marsch could well take advantage of the chemistry developed between the youngsters by deploying the “phenomenal” 49-goal Greenwood behind his U23 striking partner.
Indeed, with Rodrigo having been “non-existent” – in the words of Michael Dawson – in recent weeks, Greenwood would very much appear to be the man to take Leeds forward in attacking midfield – not only on Sunday but for the foreseeable future.