Phil Hay believes that Jesse Marsch has a tough decision to make when it comes to Diego Llorente’s spot in the Leeds United first team.
After what had been an impressive start to the season, Leeds are now in something of a rut having not won in their last three games, with a catalogue of defensive errors contributing to their poor run of form.
Someone that has been at the centre of some high-profile errors is Spain international Llorente, who failed to clear the ball against Everton that allowed Anthony Gordon to finish, while he was also at fault for three of Brentford’s goals last weekend by either missing the ball when going to make a clearance or being caught napping and wanting too much time in his defensive third.
Speaking on The Phil Hay Show, Hay therefore believes that Marsch has a big selection headache to deal with when it comes to Llorente’s spot in the starting lineup.
He said: “I think it leaves Marsch with a big decision about his defence for the Forest game. I always tend to err on the side of Liam Cooper on the left side of the two centre-backs. I think Robin Koch has done enough in the first part of this season to deserve to stay there and to deserve a decent run of games.
“But I think Marsch is going to have to think seriously about that performance from Llorente and is going to have to ask himself whether or not the right thing to do for a bit of stability and a bit of calm – for what is going to be a pretty big game at Forest – is to bring Cooper back in.
Who should start for Leeds?
“He almost said himself last week that he thinks his preferred centre-back pairing, or his best centre-back pairing, is Cooper and Koch, and it seems to me that that might be the way to go now.”
TIF Thoughts on Marsch’s defensive decision…
If Leeds want to steer clear from the threat of relegation this season, taking three points off newly promoted Nottingham Forest at home should be something that is necessary, so Marsch will know that he’ll need a solid defensive unit for Monday’s clash.
In each season since joining Leeds in the summer of 2020, Llorente has managed to make at least one error leading directly to a shot on target in the Premier League (FBref), which shows there is a recurring theme he needs to strip out of his game immediately.
Hay claimed that he wishes to see a return to the starting lineup at the weekend for Liam Cooper, who would add experience and leadership given how long he’s been in the game and is the club’s captain. However, he hasn’t played a single minute of league football this season, so Marsch may be taking a big gamble on his fitness in what will likely be seen as a must-win game.