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Match Preview: Leeds United v Birmingham City. Leeds look to celebrate centenary with a win.

Four points from four games before the break. Leeds need a win.

Barnsley v Leeds United - Sky Bet Championship Photo by James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images

Match: Leeds United v Birmingham City

Date: 19th October 2019

Time: 15:00 BST, 10:00 ET, 07:00 PST.

Venue: Elland Road, Leeds, West Yorkshire, England

Streaming: iFollow, LUTV (outside the UK).

This match is also previewed in our latest podcast, which you should definitely listen to and can be listened to here and is embedded below.

Leeds United welcome Birmingham City to Elland Road for a match that is sure to have different atmosphere to the usual. Before the match there will events on around the ground in celebration of Leeds United’s 100th birthday including some on the pitch directly preceding kick-off. Leeds’ players mustn’t be distracted by all this, with the club desperately needing a win having only taken four points from the last four matches.

Last time out Leeds had their traditional defeat in London, losing 2-1 to Millwall following Gaetano Berardi’s Red Card after a shocking decision from referee James Linington. Berardi’s red card was overturned so he will be available, and the record shows that Linington hasn’t been given a game to referee since - although that will probably change tomorrow.

Millwall v Leeds United - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Action Foto Sport/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Marcelo Bielsa has said in his press conference that Leeds will still be without Liam Cooper, Jamie Shackleton and Adam Forshaw, but the good news is that Pablo Hernandez will be “inside the group”. As Pablo Hernandez played the opening 30 minutes for the u23s today (They lost 3-0 to Birmingham City - there was no stream available so no idea how they played - guessing not well), you would think that a place among the substitutes beckons for the former Spain international.

The lack of Forshaw and Shackleton leaves a question in central midfield again. Against Millwall Stuart Dallas was given the role, but had to revert to full-back after 13 minutes due to the Red Card, so I would expect Dallas to play there again.

The other option of playing Klich as a number 8 and playing a more defined number 10 looks unlikely due to Hernandez not being fully fit. Also, the other main option for the role, Wales’ Tyler Roberts, played the last 30 minutes for the u23s today so you would expect a place on the bench for him too.

Barnsley v Leeds United - Sky Bet Championship Photo by James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images

Pascal Struijk was given a break after an hour, so he has a chance of making the bench but I would still consider that unlikely. 90 minutes for Ryan Edmondson and Mateusz Bogusz, fresh from England and Poland duty respectively, probably rules them out of the squad.

The question of Eddie Nketiah’s place (or lack thereof) in the starting line-up reared it’s head again in the press conference. Some quotes are below:

“Nketiah is a player that, at the moment, is not in the starting XI,” said Bielsa, when asked about Nketiah’s chances following an excellent hat-trick for England u21s.

”We are not being so efficient. It is natural that a striker, a goalscorer like him is claimed by the people. He scored four goals, maybe he could score five. Obviously people start to talk about if it’s Bamford or Eddie.

“If Nketiah doesn’t do well here in Leeds, the responsibility is going to be mine. That will be fair because Nketiah is a player full of results and as coach, I have to know how to manage all this skill to improve the team.The person who most wants Nketiah to have success at Leeds is me, but also I value Bamford, I value him a lot.

“When someone takes decisions, they have to take decisions that have to last in the team. It is not just in response to the supporters, the public. It is about taking decisions that last in time, at the right moment, when the team needs it. After, I back the player who comes into the team. When one player deserves to be in the starting XI, after, I back them to stay in the team. Nketiah is in this process.”

That doesn’t make anything certain, but it does seem to lean towards a starting place for Patrick Bamford and the bench for Nketiah. However, we will see at 2pm BST tomorrow. Personally, I think it is time to play Nketiah, even though I understand and am fine with Bielsa’s continuing selection of Bamford.

As for Birmingham, they are missing Ecuador winger Jefferson Montero but that is their only major concern.

The Blues have been playing a 4-4-2, usually with Lukas Jutkiewicz and Alvaro Gimenez up front. This would probably see Leeds operate with 3 centre-backs due to Kalvin Phillips playing a bit deeper, although the switch from 4-1-4-1 to 3-3-1-3 can be more a matter of Leeds having, and not having, the ball.

Birmingham City v Stoke City - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images

Birmingham’s 4-4-2 caused Leeds real problems last season at Elland Road in a 1-2 defeat. Leeds stuck with two centre-backs in that game and it did not work, although their strike force looks less strong having lost Che Adams to Southampton in the summer.

There is more about the Birmingham squad in the podcast but it does not look as strong as the Leeds squad. It also still remains to be seen whether former Leeds assistant Pep Clotet will make it as manager at this level - although there are few doubts about his actual coaching credentials.

One player to look out for is 16-year-old Jude Bellingham, he may not start but will surely be in the squad. He has played as a striker, winger, and central midfielder for the first team already this season and has two goals in his seven appearances (three starts). When he made his debut against Portsmouth in the EFL Cup he became their youngest ever player at 16 years 38 days, and there is real excitement about him both at club and international level.

Predicted Line-ups:

Leeds - Casilla; Ayling, White, Berardi, Alioski; Phillips, Dallas, Klich, Harrison, Costa; Bamford

Birmingham - Camp; Collin, Dean, Roberts, Pedersen; Crowley, Sunjic, Gardner, Villalba; Jutkiewicz, Gimenez

Prediction - Don’t remember what I said on the podcast, so I will go with a 2-0 win for Leeds.

What do you think the result will be? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter @ThruItAllLUFC.