Leeds United boss Jesse Marsch will be sweating on the fitness of young striker Joe Gelhardt ahead of this weekend’s clash with Watford after he hobbled off in Monday’s appearance for the U23 side…
What’s the latest?
The 19-year-old striker was in action for the youth team earlier this week as he looked to build up match fitness for the first-team squad but he was withdrawn just after half an hour in their win over Crystal Palace.
According to the Yorkshire Evening Post, the Whites’ initial belief was that the forward had suffered a dead leg and whilst they had no major concerns, he would be assessed on Tuesday morning.
A back spasm made him unavailable to start against Wolves before the international break and now Marsch will be anxiously hoping that this knock isn’t serious.
Should Gelhardt start at Watford if fit?
Another potential blow
This could potentially be another gutting blow for the American, having already lost his only senior striker Patrick Bamford to a recurring problem and at the weekend, he was also without Pascal Struijk, who was nursing a new hamstring issue.
The BBC believe Bamford could miss the remainder of the season, leaving the former RB Leipzig and Salzburg man hugely light on options, so to be sweating over Gelhardt is a cause for concern heading into a big encounter against the Hornets, who are fighting for their lives in that final relegation spot, eight points behind Leeds.
Marsch is keen to “expand” the youngster’s role in the squad. Speaking to the YEP recently, he said:
“With Joffy we haven’t been able to get him the rhythm and training and everything the way that we have wanted, which has meant that he’s played more of a reserve role, but I thought he came on the game and gave a real boost and was clear with the role and was dangerous at times.
“We certainly…I think you have to consider expanding his role more and more and more within the team and we need him to train.
“The plan will be that he plays with the 23s on Monday and hopefully gets more good game minutes and keeps adapting to the style of play we want.”
A little over half an hour is perhaps a little under the American’s expectations, so even if it is a dead leg and he’s passed fit to feature at the weekend, it’s hard to see him starting, given the aforementioned verdict.
Once described as a “human wrecking ball” by Sky Sports pundit Jamie Carragher, the Liverpool-born attacker has proven his ability at this level in small spurts by scoring at Stamford Bridge in an eight-minute cameo, delivering an assist against Arsenal and bagging an injury-time winner against relegation rivals Norwich City.
Marsch will now be sweating on his availability ahead of Saturday’s clash.