Sam Byram is injury prone. Daniel Farke thinks the Leeds United star has regained some of his rhythm but admits that Saturday could prove difficult for Byram, after completing 90 minutes twice in four days.
Byram, 30, joined Leeds on a free in the summer. It comes after proving his fitness during pre-season, reuniting with Farke after a spell with Norwich. He has featured in nine of our 10 Championship games.
He has completed 90 minutes on six occasions. But it is unclear if Byram can complete a third match, and possibly another 90 minutes, in the space of a week. Leeds United take on Bristol City on Saturday.
Jamie Shackleton is out, joining Junior Firpo and Stuart Dallas on the sidelines. Three left-back options, all out injured. Farke needs Byram to be fit. The international break kicks in after Saturday’s encounter.
That might tempt Farke to risk Byram – knowing he has a fortnight to be fit for our next match, his old side Norwich on October 21. But if it means risking a serious injury, a decision is needed. Farke said:
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“We will wait and see – we need to make a late call. The situation is better than it was last time because he is more in his rhythm. We have another 24 hours, which makes a big difference. Not too concerned.”
So, with three other options injured and Byram potentially needing a rest – where does Farke turn? He will want to keep the formation the same to continue the growing understanding of his 4-2-3-1 system.
There is only one solution – to take a leaf out of Jesse Marsch’s books, which may worry Leeds fans. With Firpo injured last pre-season, Marsch used Pascal Struijk on the left side of the Leeds defence.
Struijk has excelled in the middle of the defence this season. A regular, playing with Joe Rodon, Liam Cooper and Charlie Cresswell throughout. But if Byram is out, he is our last decent option at left-back.
So, the Dutch defender on the left of the defence and then, captain Liam Cooper comes back in with Joe Rodon at centre-back. Charlie Cresswell on the bench. The only solution, if Byram is unavailable.