'It's a possibility': Jesse Marsch says Leeds might have to start an attacker at full-back against Chelsea tomorrow

Jesse Marsch admits that Leeds United might be forced into playing Raphinha at right-back against Chelsea to cope with Luke Ayling’s suspension.

Speaking ahead of tomorrow’s game at Elland Road, Marsch named the Brazilian forward as one of the potential options to take the place of the absent defender.

Ayling’s red card in the 2-1 defeat to Arsenal means he will miss his side’s remaining three huge games in the fight for Premier League survival.

Already without several key senior players, Leeds enter into the contest with Chelsea rather thin on the ground.

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Especially in defence, where captain Liam Cooper might also be unavailable due to injury.

Stuart Dallas would’ve been a sturdy replacement for Ayling, but he is out for the rest of the term after breaking his leg.

Jesse Marsch attempts to march on

Instead, Marsch may need to think outside of the box to plug the gap left by his banned player.

He mentioned using Jamie Shackleton at right-back, despite him traditionally playing in central midfield.

“It’s a possibility. Jamie was hurt for a long period since I’ve been here,” said the Leeds boss about replacing Ayling with Shackleton.

The American manager then went on to throw Raphinha and Daniel James into the mix of unlikely defensive understudies.  

“We’ve visited the possibility of playing with one of our centre-backs in that position or with Raphinha and Dan James in that position. I’m not going to give it away but Jamie is in the mix.”

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No matter who Marsch picks to feature on the right, it will hardly improve Leeds’ rear-guard.

This should be music to Chelsea’s ears, as they sense a weakness in their already-hampered host.

Especially if Raphinha is the man picked to hold a defensive position.

The 25-year-old is a natural attacker, with his best work coming in and around the opponent’s penalty area.

Not when he’s asked or forced to track back towards his own goal.

Which will be the case if he is dropped deeper by Marsch and required to hold off Chelsea’s approaches.

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Leeds will then lose part of their offensive armoury, a far from an ideal scenario as they desperately need all three points.

But so do the Blues as they look to finally confirm their Champions League status for next year.

Thomas Tuchel must see a response from his group after the 2-2 draw with Wolverhampton Wanderers last weekend.

His men might just find a lot of joy down their left flank at Elland Road…

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Nathaniel is a football journalist who graduated from the University of Derby. He has worked at Burton Albion as part of their media team for two years. Nathaniel produces regular articles for the club’s official website and match-day programme. He covered the 2018 U20 Women’s World Cup in Brittany and has reported from grounds ranging from non-league up to the Premier League.