One of just two Leeds players to have played every minute of every league game so far and clear first choice keeper who already has six clean sheets. No debate there. (Photo: George Wood)
Farke had five players out injured for Saturday’s final game before the international break at home to newly-promoted Plymouth Argyle. But five then became six as Sam Byram was forced off midway through the second half of a game in which Leeds recorded a 2-1 victory to move within eight points off top spot.
Farke has only made minimal changes of late, not surprising given his side’s recent run, but there are reasons to believe that his best XI and bench could change quite a bit if and when everyone is fully fit. Here, we run through our idea of the best starting line up and nine substitutes that Farke could name if and when all of his options are ready for action.
A big shout sticking someone in who has played just nine minutes of football since joining the club on a season-long loan from Tottenham Hotspur but there can no doubting that Spence is a class act - especially at this level - who would surely be first choice right back when he finally returns from his knee injury. Harsh on Archie Gray who has been brilliant in the position, especially for a midfielder. (Photo: Jonathan Gawthorpe) The Wales international defender has been a rock at the back since signing from Tottenham on a season-long loan. (Photo: George Wood) Another who has really excelled at the back, even becoming captain when Liam Cooper and Luke Ayling are not on the pitch. Put simply, the brilliant displays of Rodon and Struijk have been keeping Cooper and also fellow centre-back option Charlie Cresswell out. Struijk had been ever present until being sent for hernia surgery but there can be no doubt that he makes the strongest XI on his recent form when he returns although the challenge to Cooper is to now excel to such a degree himself that he keeps Struijk out. (Photo: George Wood) The left back position has been a long-standing issue for Leeds but Byram's displays upon re-joining the club this summer have gone some way to solving that although the ex-Whites youngster suffered a hamstring strain in the last game before the international break against Plymouth. Whites boss Farke expected that Byram would miss the return to action which would likely provide an opportunity for the fit-again chief alternative Junior Firpo to stake his claim although Jamie Shackleton is another option, as is young defender Leo Hjelde. Byram first choice though, as things stand. (Photo: George Wood) Wales international midfielder Ampadu has proved a brilliant piece of business in costing just £7m from Chelsea at just 23 years old. Struijk's injury has left Ampadu as the only outfield Leeds player to have played every minute of every league game so far and he's probably just about the first name on the team sheet. Just a case of who partners him which is the million-dollar question when everyone is fit. (Photo: George Wood) The closest of calls but perhaps Kamara just edges it from teen sensation Archie Gray but it would be very easy to argue that Gray must start given his talents, even at 17 years of age. But it's a good problem to have and there is no denying that Kamara, a summer signing from Rangers, has looked the business next to Ampadu in the last few games. (Photo: Bruce Rollinson) The Championship's player of the month for October who already has six goals and five assists to his name so far this Championship season. Right up there now in terms of the club's best players, if not already at the top of the tree, and still only 22 years old. Farke has plenty of wing options but Summerville is a no brainer to start. (Photo: George Wood) Not quite a no-brainer to the extent of Cree given the presence of Willy Gnonto and Jaidon Anthony as alternatives, plus Ian Poveda. But James now has four goals and four assists to his name so far this Championship season, producing just what he needed. End product. That combined with lightning pace means he is surely a must starter. (Photo: George Wood) "But why don't you play him upfront?" Six wins out of the last seven is why and already six goals and one assist on a personal front. There are other attacking options and the debate will rumble on over whether Leeds could do with a genuine Pablo Hernandez-esque no 10, and still over whether Piroe should really be upfront. But it's all working very nicely at present in the front line, the Leeds attack as a whole just needing to be more clinical with their chances. (Photo: Ben Roberts Photo) The one question mark would be that record signing Rutter could and should be on more than three goals which is true, something that naturally raises something of a no 9 debate. But the 21-year-old Frenchman just looks a cut above this level when in full swing, giving defenders nightmares and he's already weighed in with five assists. Patrick Bamford remains the chief alternative unless Piroe is sent up tops but Piroe and Rutter looks pretty set in stone as the front two. (Photo: Ben Roberts Photo) Picking just nine subs is a nightmare given the squad strength in depth but at least Darlow is an easy one. Been limited to just Carabao Cup outings given the solid form of Meslier but a player whose leadership and experience has been praised by Farke. Another of United's leaders and an option at either right back or in the centre of defence. (Photo: George Wood) The main leader as club captain and the chief alternative to Rodon and Struijk at centre-back along with Charlie Cresswell though it could be argued that only Cooper makes the bench when everyone is fit due to need for attacking options. (Photo: George Wood) Unless you are stacking out the bench with defenders than it's probably a case of Firpo or Jamie Shackleton and not both working on the basis that Byram starts at left back. Harsh on the super reliable and versatile Shackleton who can also centre-midfield. (Photo: George Wood) Probably a bit of a moveable feast if and when everyone is fully fit as Shackleton's versatility could make him the preferred option - or another forward instead. But Gruev is a very experienced Bulgarian international who has been continually making Farke's bench although it will be interesting to see what happens when Stuart Dallas finally returns given the range of positions that he can play. (Photo: Nick Potts) A young star who really should be in the starting line-up, even when everyone is fit but not easy to sort. But at the very minimum the 17-year-old ace is surely the first port of call for a midfield change and quite possibly at right back too. It should also be remembered that Gray can also play as a no 10 which might provide food for thought longer term. (Photo: George Wood) The 19-year-old Italian international is a startling option to have on the bench, much like Gray really. But probably the case at present given the displays of the front four. An option out wide, at no 10 or even upfront where he has played for his country. (Photo: Simon Hulme) Another very strong attacking option to have on the bench in a promotion-winning winger who has already impressed at times but not enough to dislodge any of the front four at present. (Photo: George Wood) The Whites no 9 is clearly the chief alternative striker option to Rutter and therein completes the bench which means no place for Joe Gelhardt or Ian Poveda, never mind youngsters like Mateo Joseph and Cresswell or Shackleton. A very strong squad that really ought to be getting back to the Premier League at the first attempt. (Photo: George Wood)