Daniel James is expected to lead the line for Leeds United this evening…
That’s according to The Athletic’s ever-reliable Phil Hay, who dropped a little hint over Marcelo Bielsa’s likely team selection ahead of the Whites’ trip to Aston Villa.
“A very winnable game if Leeds play well. Square pegs in square holes? Sounds like a good idea. But I feel like it might well be James up front again tonight. Perhaps that won’t hurt if Leeds are trying to hit Villa on the break,” he claimed in a pre-match Q&A with supporters.
This suggestion will not go down well with the Elland Road faithful and it’s easy to see why.
In the absence of Patrick Bamford, who is yet to return to training following a third injury of the season, the Yorkshire giants have struggled for goals.
“He hasn’t played for 15 games now, how can I not worry?” Bielsa said in his pre-game press conference (via the BBC). Indeed, he has missed 17 of their last 18 league matches and has scored twice from his six appearances.
Without him, the Argentinian head coach has had to turn to alternatives and as he does not have another senior striker, it has often left him sticking a winger upfront – like James or Jack Harrison.
But after signing in a club-record £30m deal in the summer, the Wales international has hugely struggled for form and considering his 5 foot 7 frame and lack of physicality, he has really failed to make much of an impact up top. That’s unlikely to change against the towering presences of Tyrone Mings and Ezri Konsa.
Across 17 league appearances, James has only provided two goals and one assist, something that does not correlate well with his average of two shots per game as it suggests that he is not taking his chances when they fall to him – but that’s not much of a surprise given he’s a winger.
The 24-year-old also ranks amongst the worst two players to have started 15 or more games this term.
If Hay, who is one of the most trustworthy when it comes to anything Leeds-related, believes that James is likely to start up front at Villa Park, then supporters will surely be worried, if not fuming – especially when there is Joe Gelhardt sat right there on the bench.