By the skin of their teeth, and with much grit and less aplomb, Leeds United have maintained their good form at the top-end of the Sky Bet Championship table.
This maintenance of form has come despite a glut of injuries that has robbed the Whites of a number of their first-teamers from an already pared-down and lean set-up.
Leeds have been lacking a quartet of Kemar Roofe, Patrick Bamford, Gaetano Berardi and Pablo Hernandez for much of the last month, with Barry Douglas joining them recently. Still, despite this raft of injuries, Leeds United have maintained their impressive run and currently sit in third place in the table.
Whilst the international breaks can leave football fans without their regular does of football, and the bitter-sweet emotions that brings, it does allow players with niggles that extra time to begin to come back to full-strength and get as near to match fitness as they possibly can do.
That’s certainly the case with two of Leeds’ injured quintet, with Kemar Roofe and Gaetano Berardi making comebacks from injury in midweek. The two first-team stalwarts were part of a strong Leeds United Under-23 side that gifted away a 2-0 lead to draw 2-2 with their Burnley counterparts.
In fact, the pair managed to each get on the scoresheet, albeit thanks to fortuitous deflections. It was Berardi’s glanced near-post header that put the Whites 1-0 up, the header ricocheting like a pinball from a host of Burnley players before ending up in the net. Roofe’s shot, early in the second-half, took less deflections as it found its way into the onion bag.
With this pair returning, it certainly strengthens Marcelo Bielsa’s hand as he looks at getting the Whites to kick-on towards Christmas. It could also be more fortunate that Berardi is fit, especially with Luke Ayling banned for the next game against Blackburn after his injury time sending off against Brentford.
In fact, Marcelo Bielsa could easily slip Berardi back into his natural right-back position – Pontus Jansson’s form in the centre of defence likely to preclude a return to their for the popular Swiss-Italian. Added to this, an attacking left-side, robbed of Barry Douglas, could easily be crafted by the wily Argentine.
Dropping Gjanni Alioski back into a left-back position, where he has previous experience, and moving Stuart Dallas up to left-wing would give Leeds United a potent combination down the left flank. Add in the impact of Jack Clark from the bench and Leeds United fans could be looking at an exciting attacking force against Blackburn next Saturday.