Speculation hasn’t finished with Leeds United just yet despite the hot topic of the summer – the future of Chris Wood – being cleared up this week, after the striker completed his move to Burnley on Monday.
Now, speculation has turned to Northern Ireland winger Stuart Dallas after the YEP’s chief football writer Phil Hay revealed that Norwich were showing an interest in Dallas with the end of the transfer window just around the corner.
Good contact down south says Norwich City want Stuart Dallas. Looks like part of the plans at Leeds but current deal is up next June. #lufc
— Phil Hay (@PhilHayYEP) August 24, 2017
Despite the 25-year-old’s lack of league starts during the start of the campaign, the winger is a player Leeds cannot afford to dispense with. The reason for this is simple – after several quality additions this summer, Leeds finally have solid players like Dallas and Vieira as backup which means for the first time in years, the Whites have strength in depth.
The former Brentford winger enjoyed a good pre-season under Christiansen and despite recent speculation about his future at Elland Road, the Whites head coach has proclaimed his admiration for Dallas.
Accordingto the YEP writer Lee Sobot ahead of the game, Christiansen said: “There’s a lot of competitiveness in the squad but I need a player like Stuart.”
After Jay-Roy Grot joined the club yesterday, Christiansen explained that the Dutchman was an interesting player and that hinted that his physicality will make him a very good asset.
“He is a very interesting player, a young player, he looks older because he is very tall and very strong,” continued the Whites head coach.
“I don’t want to say it’s a substitution for Wood, they have other characteristics that I like.”
However, Christiansen kept his cards close to his chest with regards to the possibility of the 6ft 4 inch forward starting the game.
Jay-Roy Grot looks set to make his debut against Forest on Saturday, after the Whites confirmed his move from NEC Nijmegen for an initial £750,000 fee.
However, Grot may have to bide his time on the bench before introducing himself, with Kemar Roofe’s midweek hat-trick against Newport County placing him firmly in the mix to start.
It has also been a reminder for Thomas Christiansen as the 24-year-old has proved that he is more than capable of filling the big shoes left by Chris Wood.
Spanish playmaker Pablo Hernandez has been declared fit for the trip after limping off during the game against Sunderland with a hip problem, but Caleb Ekuban will miss the game due to a foot problem.
Stuart Dallas will be pushing for his first league start of the season after impressing as a substitute against Sunderland and during the 5-1 rout against Newport.
Christiansen may opt to take Vurnon Anita out of the starting eleven as Cameron Borthwick-Jackson’s pace and physical presence stands him in good stead to cope with the threat of Forest winger Barrie McKay.
Gaetano Berardi and Mathew Pennington remain side-lined but are expected to start light training during September. Besides that, Thomas Christiansen has plenty of options to choose from ahead of the game.
The City Ground is a place that hasn’t been kind to the Whites over the last five years, with them taking just a point from their travels.
Liam Cooper and Stuart Dallas are the only survivors from the squad who took that point and they will both look to start at the weekend after good starts to the season.
But the last time these two sides met was at Elland Road at the start of the New Year, when recently departed forward Souleymane Doukara’s wonder strike sealed a 2-0 over Forest who, at the time, were having troubles with their managerial appointments.
Saturday’s game will certainly present new opposition in terms of the confidence they’ve picked up so far season, with the home side sitting a place above the Whites, winning three and losing one of their opening league games.
Mark Warburton has certainly implemented his ideas into Forest’s play early on as they look to maintain their winning home record at home. He certainly has had a big influence already on a few of his new players; Daryl Murphy, who was left out in the cold for much of last season at Newcastle, has bagged three in four and is excelling in a lone role up front.
Barrie McKay, who followed Warburton from Rangers to Forest, has certainly made his mark on the Championship, scoring twice and playing a key role creating chances for his teammates.
It will take a big, big performance from the Whites if they are to come away with all three points, but it isn’t like they haven’t already done that in Christiansen’s opening clashes and it wouldn’t come as a surprise if Leeds nick the points this weekend.
Forest have failed to score more than two goals during home games so far, and seen as Leeds have been prolific scorers on their travels with three against Bolton and two at Sunderland, and should Kemar Roofe and Samuel Sáiz carry their fine goal-scoring form into the league, then United could make a massive statement of intent.