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Match Preview: Leeds United v Port Vale

Leeds host Port Vale in the first round of the League Cup

Tony Rougier and Lucas Radebe

Match: Leeds United v Port Vale, 1st round of League Carabaro Cup

Date: 9 August 2017

Time: 19.45 BST, 2.45 EDT

Venue: Elland Road

Television: none

Radio: BBC Radio Leeds, not available online

Streaming: ESPN3, WatchESPN.com

All-time Record: Leeds v Port Vale: 15 W, 5 D, 3 L

Leeds United host Port Vale at Elland Road for the first appearance of the Staffordshire club in almost ten years. Port Vale last played at Elland Road during the 2007-08 League One season on December 4th, 2007, and Port Vale hosted Leeds in the reverse fixture in 2008, the last time the teams played each other.

Port Vale were relegated from League One last season, and while the fans may be looking forward to a Cup run, the club will likely have other priorities in mind. The club won its first League Two match away to Crawley Town on Saturday, ruining the senior managerial debut of former Leeds United turncoat Harry Kewell.

In addition to the recent loan of Tyler Denton to Port Vale, there will be a few other familiar faces. Port Vale manager Michael Brown is a former Leeds United player, and the team also features ex-Leeds players Michael Tonge and Danny Pugh.

Leeds United fans will be in a pretty good mood about their chances in this match, as the team is coming off of a well-deserved 3-2 away win over Bolton Wanderers in the opening match of the Championship season for both clubs. The win marked head coach Thomas Christiansen’s first official match in charge of Leeds and his managerial debut in England and in the Championship.

The League Cup will represent an opportunity for Christiansen to rest some of his players and get some match time for some of the players that either were in the matchday 18 but did not feature and also get some opportunities for some of the players that didn’t make the bench last time out. Expect to see the competitive debuts of Mateusz Klich, Samuel Saiz, and possibly Caleb Ekuban on Wednesday. Also, there is a very good chance that last year’s starting goal keeper, Rob Green, starts against Port Vale as he attempts to make his claim to retake his starting job back from former Werder Bremen keeper Felix Wiedwald, who beat him out in preseason to be the number one keeper at the club.

With Pontus Jansson still suspended and half of the back four going off injured against Bolton, both Everton loanee Matthew Pennington and Gaetano Berardi, expect to see a make-shift defence start the match. Young Leeds defender Conor Shaughnessy had a start to forget against Bolton, as he gave up a penalty within the first five minutes of coming on for Pennington, but he seemed to settle down and play well enough to hold down a starting spot this week. While some fans might expect to see the new signing from Manchester United, loanee Cameron Borthwick-Jackson, start the match, it is more likely that former Newcastle utility man Vurnon Anita gets the nod at the left back position.

As for the midfield, since Leeds will be forced to field an inexperienced CB in Shaughnessy partnering Cooper, expect to see Liam Bridcutt to get a run in the side. Last year’s captain (the players allegedly took a vote, who knows who the captain really is at this point after Cooper wore the arm band Sunday) is a steady, defensive-oriented, player who will help to shield the back four. Also expect to see Ronaldo Vieira start in the central midfield next to Bridcutt.

Stuart Dallas will likely start on the wing, with Saiz on the opposite wing with Klich between them, supporting a lone striker up top, which could feature former Chievo Verona striker Ekuban. While shoehorning Saiz in on the wing isn’t ideal, he’s more suited to be playing as a number 10 or in the hole as a second striker, Hadi Sacko didn’t really impress in his time against Bolton, and Klich needs to be seen in a competitive match and also needs to play to gain match fitness after picking up an injury during preseason and starting on the bench against Bolton.

Port Vale may rotate some of their players out, with experienced players such as Tonge and Pugh perhaps needing a midweek match off to retain their fitness levels for the upcoming important League Two match as Vale host Wycombe on Saturday to kick off their home fixtures for the 2017-18 season.

Predicted Leeds Line-up: Green; Ayling, Shaughnessy, Cooper (c), Anita; Vieira, Bridcutt; Dallas, Klich, Saiz; Ekuban

Predicted Score: 4-1 Leeds. This team and the likely lineup has goals written all over it. Dallas has been banging them in all preseason, and will be looking to change the manager’s mind about his playing time after non making the bench on opening day. Likewise, Saiz and Ekuban will be looking to open their Leeds account against a League Two club visiting Elland Road. While Leeds may dominate possession and attacking play, the defence is still shaky and with a makeshift lineup, they will be vulnerable against set pieces and corner kicks without Jansson in the lineup.