Few would have thought that Charlie Taylor’s controversial decision to leave Leeds United over the summer would have caused the Whites the problems that it has, with the Sky Bet Championship outfit failing to replace the left-back, who had established himself as one of the best in the division over recent years.
Leeds never underestimated Taylor or his ability, but now without him they are struggling. Gaetano Berardi appears to be first-choice left-back under Thomas Christiansen, but Vurnon Anita, Cameron Borthwick-Jackson and even Stuart Dallas have deputised this season.
Berardi has been reasonably good over the season, but Leeds need to address the problem in January, by bringing a natural left-back to the club to solve an ongoing problem.
Here at FLW, we believe Leeds should be looking to the lower leagues, where they could potentially pick up a long-term replacement for Taylor, without breaking the bank financially.
There are a number of standout left-backs in League One, but one player who appears to have the potential to take the step-up into the Championship is Conor Townsend, who has helped Scunthorpe United into promotion contention once again this season.
Last year, Townsend made 32 appearances across all competitions for the Irons, helping them reach the play-off semi-finals, where Millwall eventually beat them. This season, Scunthorpe are once again in the hunt for a return to the Championship, and heading into December sit just two points outside the automatic promotion places.
The 24-year-old has played as both a natural left-back and wing-back, proving to be equally as impressive in attack and defence, which would suit Christiansen’s narrow system at Elland Road, where the full-backs are often asked to provide the width.
Townsend has seen his opportunities limited a little bit this season, and has not completed 90 minutes of League One action for the Irons since mid-October.
However, the left-back has built up a wealth of experience in the lower leagues over his short career, spending time with Chesterfield and Carlisle United, among others, similar to the way Taylor stoked his reputation before returning to Elland Road for a chance in Leeds’ first-team.
Replacing Taylor’s quality is easier said than done, but the experiment of on-loan Borthwick-Jackson from Manchester United hasn’t worked, whilst you question how long a club with promotion ambition can continue to play Berardi out of position.
Signing a player like Townsend in January could answer Leeds’ long-term left-back problems, but also give them a natural option for the second-half of the season.
Leeds fans… Let us know your thoughts!