Any plan Marcelo Bielsa may have had on naming Jack Clarke in the starting XI for Leeds United’s Championship showdown against Sheffield United is surely dead in the water.
The United forward was pencilled in for 45 minutes of Leeds Under-23s’ Premier League Cup clash against Fulham on Thursday night as he gets back up to speed following his health scare at Middlesbrough last month.
But, the unexpected twist of extra-time at Guiseley, with the scoreline locked at 2-2 at full-time, meant Clarke ended up playing 75 minutes.
Following his 80-minute run-out on Monday night, the hugely promising winger is no doubt close to regaining full fitness after missing training for a fortnight following the Riverside Stadium scare.
But, it would be too much for Clarke to go straight back in the line-up 36 hours – the Elland Road clash tomorrow (Saturday) is a 12.30pm kick-off – after the mental and physical demands of the youth team’s penalty shoot-out triumph.
Bielsa did not name his starting XI at his media briefing on Thursday, as he had done 48 hours before all of Leeds’ matches since ‘Spygate’ persuaded the manager to be totally transparent.
He hinted that some tired bodies and various ailments meant he had not entirely made up his mind over whether to select the same side for a sixth consecutive game.
But the Argentine’s mind is surely made up over Clarke being restored to the substitute’s bench, rather than the starting XI, in the mouthwatering Yorkshire derby.
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