Solving Heckingbottom’s injury conundrum: How Leeds United can cope without the injured Samuel Saiz
As per a report from Leeds Live, Leeds United manager Paul Heckingbottom has confirmed that Samuel Saiz has suffered a minor hamstring tear that will put him out of action for quite some time. He had picked up the injury in a 2-2 draw against Reading earlier in March, following which he had to miss the loss against Sheffield Wednesday last weekend.
Although Leeds do not have a game this weekend, he is a doubt for the tough Easter fixtures against the likes of Bolton Wanderers and Fulham. With the season already over for the Whites, it would be unwise for Heckingbottom and his team to rush Saiz into making a return. Hence, for now, they are likely to utilize a replacement to plug the creative gap in the number 10 position.
In the game against Sheffield Wednesday, Heckingbottom played Pablo Hernandez in that position and although the Spaniard provided an assist, the team seemed to lack creativity. Hernandez is 32 years of age and quite unsurprisingly, he struggled to play that role, which leaves Heckingbottom with a bit of a quandary in his forward positions.
One option is to play the talented Ezgjan Alioski behind Caleb Ekuban to add some pace and trickery to the attack. Although Alioski has been playing mainly on the right for Leeds this season, he has already scored more goals than Saiz and can open up defences when he gets the opportunity. Hence, this would certainly be the right option for the Bolton game, where Leeds will be confident of getting a result.
Another option is utilizing 24-year-old Hadi Sako, who has only started one game for Leeds this season and can make a difference if given the opportunity. His pace could stretch defences and make link-up play a tad bit easier. However, it could be risky to play him in such a key part of the pitch.
That said, it is likely that Heckingbottom will try and play the experienced Pablo Hernandez in both games over the Easter period. Another option would be to play Alioski but this problem highlights the lack of truly creative players at the Yorkshire club and will give the owner Andrea Radrizzani an incentive to spend money on a quality number 10 in the summer.