Three big dilemmas facing Jonathan Woodgate ahead of Leeds United clash

Middlesbrough head coach Jonathan Woodgate is facing an injury crisis ahead of Saturday’s trip to Leeds United – and the Boro boss has plenty of big decisions to make.

Friday, 29th November 2019, 11:45 am
Updated Friday, 29th November 2019, 2:29 pm
Middlesbrough head coach Jonathan Woodgate.

We take a closer look at some of the dilemmas for the Boro boss ahead of the game.

Who starts on the right side?

Woodgate revealed in Friday’s press conference that right-back Anfernee Dijksteel will be out for around four weeks and requires an operation to cure a knee injury he sustained against Barnsley on Wednesday.

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That leaves a big problem on Boro’s right flank, assuming that Woodgate will stick with wing-back system he’s been deploying.

Jonny Howson has also played at right-wing back this season but has been required at centre-back during the last few games with Ryan Shotton still sidelined with a knee issue.

Marc Bola filled the role following Dijksteel’s withdrawal on Wednesday night while Paddy McNair could also play on the right side. The Northern Ireland international is also doubtful with a glute injury though.

What approach will Woodgate take?

Boro have been at their best this season when they’ve played on the front foot and pressed teams from the off – but could they do that at Elland Road?

Due to injuries, Woodgate could be forced to play a young side against Marcelo Bielsa’s men and some players will have to be played out of position.

Last season Tony Pulis’ Boro side kept things tight to claim a goalless draw in this fixture, yet the Teessiders haven’t been as solid this campaign.

Woodgate will have to find the right balance against his former side. That’s easier said than done though, against a team who have lost just once at home this term.

Will Woodgate risk doubtful duo?

Woodgate’s lack of options must have played a part in the club’s recent injury crisis with the Boro boss unable to rotate.

McNair and Britt Assombalonga are both doubts for the game and could probably do with a rest ahead of a busy Christmas period – but can Woodgate afford to leave them out?

Against Barnsley, four of Boro’s seven outfield substitutes hadn’t made a single Championship appearance.

The squad is down to the bare bones.