It’s a slightly odd and faintly unusual thing to do – arrange a friendly fixture right in the middle of the hurly-burly of a busy league campaign and just as the FA Cup starts up for another year (for the big lads of the top two leagues). The match at Chester’s Swansway Chester Stadium will take place next Tuesday (k.o. 7pm), right in the middle of what would otherwise have been a welcome blank week for the club’s “leg-weary” players. What could be the motivation for such a match?
Well, it could of course be simply a reserves friendly, an addition to the development squad’s calendar, perhaps top give an opportunity to try out some trialists. Such things do happen, though they’re normally behind closed doors affairs at Thorp Arch. Interestingly though, Brian McDermott has been emphatic in the press just lately that he wants to get any incoming transfer business done early in the window, and that he’s confident of board support, despite the fact we’ve heard nothing officially about Football League approval of the mooted Haigh-led takeover. Perhaps we need a #Pen4Shaun campaign? Other gossip has seen it opined that Luciano Becchio would be a poor signing as he’d be nowhere near match-fit, having spent his time at Norwich warming the bench. This Chester game has a whiff of intrigue about it, and I suspect that it’s not unconnected with the possibility of some inward transfer movement over the next couple of days or so.
What the composition of the Leeds team will be next Tuesday night is a matter for speculation. With Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough waiting for us next weekend, and then Leicester, Brighton and Ipswich coming up in the rest of January, together with possibly a couple more FA Cup games, it’s unlikely that a friendly would call on the services of many of our regulars this season – depending of course on who actually plays at Rochdale in the Cup this weekend. It’s really all quite intriguing.
I don’t expect to see Thierry Henry in a Leeds shirt at Chester – but there may well be a couple of names in there making their bow for Leeds in an effort to make an early impression. Billy Sharp? Luciano Becchio? Maxi Gradel even? We’ll have to wait and see – but given the timing of this game, the biggest surprise would be if there were no surprise inclusion at all.