Leeds United: Jesse Marsch could turn to Patrick Bamford in battle to avoid relegation

WHEN asked about the prospect of Patrick Bamford being involved before the end of the season for Leeds United, Jesse Marsch said he was ‘cautiously optimistic’ at his pre-match conference ahead of the Arsenal game.

Developments at the Emirates Stadium tomorrow – at the start of a huge week in the modern-day history of the Elland Road club – could determine its extent.

The 28-year-old, who has not featured since rupturing his plantar fascia in the 3-2 victory over Wolves in March, is set to return to training next week.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

It is a week which also sees relegation-threatened Leeds welcome Chelsea next Wednesday and host Brighton a week tomorrow before ending the season at Brentford on May 22.

Leeds United's Patrick Bamford. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

On the risk-versus-reward scenario regarding Bamford, head coach Marsch said: “It depends on the situation. Especially with a three-game week coming, we can’t be going into the third game on fumes and not having enough players having a healthy body.

“So we have to think about how to rotate through the week in the right way and how to use guys the right way, so that we get the most out of every game, but also having as many fresh legs and ready legs on the pitch for each match.

“Right now we’re focused on Arsenal and what that will take and then we will have to transition quickly into Chelsea.

“I watched him (Bamford) on the pitch a bit (on Friday) and he was moving really well and doing a lot of ball work and was relatively active and dynamic.

“So I think we still have two-and-a-half weeks and will go step by step. But we are hopeful we can get him into training by next week.”

For Marsch, the involvement of Bamford would not just bring another invaluable goal option, but provide him with some tactical flexibility too at the seminal time in United’s season.

Marsch, who should welcome back Liam Cooper tomorrow, added: “We’ve asked Dan James to play a lot in that (forward) position, and I know that it’s not ideal. We will still probably need him at times to play there.

“(But) If we can get Patrick back and sharp and fit, that will be helpful for sure.”

“I’ve always been thinking about how to use Joffy (Joe Gelhardt) more and more and we have used Rodrigo sometimes at that position, but I think he is more like a false nine or 10 or operates better when there’s another striker there with him.

“So it hasn’t always been perfect in terms of trying to get the most out of every game plan, but the guys have given everything - no matter what role has been asked of them. That’s for sure.”