Leeds United face a challenging trip to Liverpool on Saturday night, with Jesse Marsch looking to end the Whites’ current eight-game run without a victory in the Premier League under the Anfield lights.
However, with the American revealing in his pre-match press conference that a number of first-team regulars could be set to miss the trip to Liverpool – with Joe Gelhardt, Rodrigo, Luis Sinisterra, Leo Fuhr Hjelde, Tyler Adams and Liam Cooper all doubts, while Adam Forshaw and Stuart Dallas remain sidelined – it would seem that getting a result against the Reds will be an uphill battle tonight.
Having said that, with two attacking berths looking likely to open up in the 48-year-old’s matchday squad due to the absences of Rodrigo and Gelhardt – one of which should be handed to Wilfried Gnonto – Marsch will most probably turn to Michael Skubala’s under-21 side in order to help make up the numbers tonight.
Considering just how impressive Sonny Perkins has been for the under-21s since his move to Thorp Arch this summer, the 18-year-old centre-forward could be handed a well-deserved chance to shine on the senior stage against Jurgen Klopp’s side.
Indeed, after leaving West Ham United on a free transfer at the end of his contract at the London Stadium, the England under-19 international has been in red-hot form for Skubala’s youth outfit. He has seven goals in eight Premier League 2 appearances, also bagging a further goal across two outings in the Papa John’s Trophy.
This form has seen the £1.08m-rated hitman earn a considerable amount of praise, with one-time Leeds forward Noel Whelan stating of Perkins in an interview with Football Insider in September: “This is why you bring in these youngsters from other clubs. You’re just hoping they hit the ground running, which he obviously has. He’s made a massive impact – settled in very quickly and found his feet.
“He’s also finding the back of the net and even taking that confidence into international games as well. This is what it’s all about. Even if he’s 18 – he won’t be there to make up the numbers.
“He wants to be in the mind’s eye of the manager and put himself into contention for a first-team spot. He looks sharp, confident and he’s on the right path. The only way you can be noticed as a striker is if you’re scoring goals.”
As such, with both Rodrigo and Gelhardt looking set to watch on from the sidelines tonight, as well as Patrick Bamford being yet to find the net over his nine Premier League appearances this season – not to mention missing the most big chances of any player in the top flight – a refresh in the Whites’ attack could well be on the cards.
By unleashing the “dangerous” and “explosive” Perkins – in the words of Skubala and Marsch respectively – alongside Gnonto at Anfield, the 48-year-old could well form a deadly young partnership which could help to reignite Leeds’ misfiring attacking lineup. That is undoubtedly an exciting prospect for all involved with the club.