With Willy Gnonto back in contention for Championship action following ankle surgery the Whites travel to Norwich City with a full complement of wingers.
At various stages of the season Farke has had to do without one or more of his wide men – there were groin injuries for Daniel James, Crysencio Summerville and Ian Poveda respectively prior to Gnonto’s ankle issue and of course the latter had that little spell out of the side due to his brief flirtation with Everton’s transfer interest.
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There was Luis Sinisterra to throw into the mix at the start of the season too, before he was loaned to Bournemouth and Jaidon Anthony came back the other way to replace him. Now that Farke has them all available, picking an obvious starting pair is made difficult not only by the pedigree but the form of individuals who can occupy spots on either flank in Farke’s 4-2-3-1 system.
Summerville has looked too quick and too clever for a number of defenders thus far this season, adding two goals and two assists, while Gnonto has just the one goal but possesses more than enough speed, skill and ability to soon start catching up with his pal’s goal contributions, once fully fit. Both are incredible dribblers, dynamic and nimble enough to change direction and leave a defender in their wake or operate in a tiny pocket of space.
Anthony grabbed his first Leeds goal against Watford and has carried a serious threat in the latter stages of games against tired defences or teams vacating space as they try to chase down a deficit. His technical ability was almost immediately apparent in the crisp cross-field switches he looked to play from out on the left. And James, who might not have featured in the preferred starting XI of too many prior to the start of the season, is on a one-man mind-changing mission thanks to a goal and four assists so far. His pace is blistering and takes him into positions where he can hurt teams and he’s creating chances at the end of moves, rather than ending moves with iffy decision making, as has been his issue at times in the past.
They are wingers of different shapes, sizes and profiles and all have had a part to play in the most impressive of Leeds’ performances so far. The way that quartet have performed has largely restricted Poveda’s contribution but he remains an option for Farke, another different one.
“I don’t want to compare,” said Farke on Thursday ahead of the trip to Carrow Road. He appreciates the differences because each game and in-game scenario will call for something new.
“We have good options in the attack. Daniel James is different to Cree Summerville or Willy Gnonto or Jaidon Anthony. Each player has strengths and skills, each game sometimes needs a different skill. We have options to react during the games, different players in starting line-up, sometimes a player on the right-wing who plays wider, sometimes in the pocket. We don’t want to press them into a role, my tactical ideas have to adapt to which players I have. If you have the choice between different players and qualities you can share the load.”
Gnonto’s post-surgery comeback will likely necessitate a drip-fed return to the line-up rather than an immediate start at Norwich, leaving Summerville, James and Anthony to scrap it out for the two starting positions. Of the five Poveda has the most to prove, in terms of competitive games, and appears the least likely to find himself out wide when Leeds kick off. But as the right-back role given to Archie Gray last time out proved, Farke is not averse to a surprise. Whatever this game calls for in the wide positions, however, the manager has a good chance of finding it within his squad.