Predicted starting line-up as Leeds United prepare to host Crewe Alexandra in Carabao Cup – Tom Coates

Leeds United begin their Carabao Cup campaign against League One side Crewe Alexandra tonight in front of what will be a healthy home crowd.

The Whites have struggled in the competition in recent years and fell at the first hurdle last year when Hull City, then of League One, secured a penalty shootout victory at Elland Road.

The fact, Marcelo Bielsa’s men are yet to secure a competitive win this season and it may provide added incentive for the clash against Crewe, who are also yet to register a win this season.

However, with the Premier League remaining a priority, rotation is likely. Following the under-23s defeat to Tottenham on Monday afternoon, Leeds Live have attempted to predict Bielsa’s starting XI.

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Goalkeeper: Kristoffer Klaesson

Goalkeeper rotations are common in the Carabao Cup and it could provide a perfect opportunity for new arrival Klaesson to introduce himself to the Elland Road faithful.

Right-back: Jamie Shackleton

Shackleton entered the fray for the final 30 minutes on Saturday but has not played much competitive football since Leeds returned to the Premier League.

If Bielsa wishes to rest Luke Ayling, the versatile Shackleton could be handed an opportunity to get valuable minutes after impressing in pre-season.

Centre-backs: Charlie Cresswell and Liam Cooper

Once again, injuries have struck in the heart of defence for Leeds. Tonight may come too soon for Robin Koch and Diego Llorente, meaning Cresswell could be used in the second round of the Carabao Cup for a second consecutive year.

Bielsa may wish to partner the 18-year-old up with an experienced figure, therefore Cooper could prove to be a sensible choice to play alongside him.

Liam Cooper of Leeds.
Liam Cooper of Leeds.

Left-back: Stuart Dallas

The departures of Ezgjan Alioski, Barry Douglas and Leif Davis have left Leeds light in the left-back position, and if Junior Firpo is going to be saved for the trip to Burnley, Dallas may have to step in.

Dallas is one of the most energetic players in the Premier League and featuring again after starts against Everton and Manchester United should not be a problem for the Northern Irish fan favourite.

Central midfielders: Kalvin Phillips, Adam Forshaw and Tyler Roberts

Phillips did not feature heavily in pre-season as a result of his post-Euro 2020 break, therefore Bielsa may want the England international to get more game time under his belt. Even if it is just for the opening 45 minutes, a runout for the 25-year-old could be beneficial to keep things ticking over.

Forshaw returned to the fold in pre-season after a brief reappearance with the under-23s last season and having been named as a substitute in the opening two Premier League games, he may be ready for a competitive start.

Roberts only featured as a substitute against Manchester United and Everton, therefore a start would provide the Wales international with a chance to stake a claim for a league start and build sharpness. Rodrigo may also be in contention, but we are going to give Roberts the nod considering the Spaniard has had a slight muscular issue.

Wingers: Helder Costa and Crysencio Summerville

Raphinha and Jack Harrison remain comfortably ahead of Costa in the pecking order but Bielsa will still want the Angola international to be match fit and ready to step in at any point if required. Minutes are crucial at this early stage of the season and Costa could be given some against Crewe.

Summerville was an unused substitute against Manchester United and Everton, and with rests for Raphinha and Harrison likely, the Dutch prodigy may be called upon.

Forward: Joe Gelhardt

Patrick Bamford is the only senior player to be viewed as a natural number nine by Bielsa, considering fellow forwards Rodrigo and Tyler Roberts are often used in an advanced midfield role. Even Sam Greenwood is regularly used as a number 10, leaving Joe Gelhardt as the only like-for-like Bamford replacement.

The former Wigan Athletic prospect has been developing with the under-23s ever since he made the switch to Elland Road and now he has recovered from his recent injury, it may be his time to shine.

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