Five experiments Leeds can still carry out this season

Elland Road

With just three games left of another disjointed Championship campaign, Neil Redfearn can still learn something if he chooses to experiment.

Head coach Redfearn is still in the dark over his own position for next season, but his love of Leeds United and his committed and honourable personality dictates that he is still approaching the job as boss with diligence, care and attention, and one eye on the future.

Redfearn has famously brought through a number of academy graduates this season, and also changed the team shape from an unsuccessful diamond to a 4-5-1 formation that has effectively saved the club from a relegation battle. Now, with just three games remaining, there is still scope to learn a bit more.

1. Try Dario Del Fabro at centre-half?

The 20-year-old centre-half is on a season-long loan from Cagliari, but is yet to make a first-team appearance in the league. Nobody knows if there is any intention to have him at the club long term. His one start came against Sunderland in the FA Cup, in which the team performed admirably in a 1-0 defeat. It is true that had Del Fabro set the world alight in the Development Squad this season he would have been pushing for a first-team start. That this hasn't happened may suggest that his services will not be retained on a permanent basis. However, with president Massimo Cellino back in the country in preparation for the end of his Football League ban on May 4th, it may be that Del Fabro is given one shot at what he can do in the Championship. With Redfearn unsure as to his favoured centre-half partnership - Sol Bamba has been partnered with both Liam Cooper and Guiseppe Bellusci in recent games - he may be tempted to try the young Italian, or indeed Academy graduate Ross Killock.

2. Is there an alternative to Scott Wootton at right-back?

Wootton has been solid at right-back, but offers little in an attacking sense, with Leeds often crying out for width and invention. Lewie Coyle has been grabbing the attention in the Development Squad in recent games, but Redfearn has spoken of being wary about putting too many youngsters into the team at the same time. Swiss defender Gaetano Berardi has been excellent in a left-back position in the last six weeks, but his natural position is on the right. Berardi struggled when he first broke into the team, but now he has adapted to English conditions he may be a good option to try on the right-hand side.

3. Is Chris Dawson finally ready?

It is two years since Chris Dawson made his first-team debut, but injury and the progression of others means he has seen little action since, making just two brief sub appearances this season. Dawson was being hailed as the most promising academy product in 2012/13, but has been overtaken on the blind side by Alex Mowatt, Lewis Cook and Kalvin Phillips since then. At the age of 20, Dawson must be looking to try and establish himself soon, particularly as Redfearn has resisted the urge to send him out on loan. You sense that next season is the big one for Dawson, but Redfearn may be tempted to throw him a shirt in the final three games.

4. Can Lewis Walters offer some pace and width?

In the 4-5-1 formation, Leeds are heavily reliant on their midfield to provide creativity and in recent games this has been shown up as a major shortcoming. Leeds have lacked pace and width for a number of years now, and had Lewis Walters not picked up an injury in pre-season, there is no doubt Leeds fans would have seen him before now. Walters is a natural front man but can play wide, and he may be an option to provide the attacking threat that the team needs if it perseveres with the lone front man system. Redfearn said this week that he sees Charlie Taylor's best position as left-back on a long term basis, and many fans would agree. That suggests that the wide left position is up for grabs, and Walters may be the answer.

5. Can Leeds play with two front men?

It is generally accepted that none of the strikers currently on Leeds' books can play as the lone front man with any large degree of success. Steve Morison, Mirco Antenucci and Billy Sharp have all been tried with variable results, and Frenchman Souleymane Doukara has not even been offered the chance to shine in the unforgiving role. The 4-5-1 system has been a success because Leeds have been strong in midfield, and the likes of Mowatt, Cook and Luke Murphy have thrived in the formation. However, Leeds are struggling for goals and looking long term Redfearn has to decide whether Leeds persevere with the 4-5-1 system and therefore look to sign a guaranteed 20-goal striker suited to that formation, or whether his midfield is now strong enough to cope with a 4-4-2 or even a 3-5-2. Leeds still lack natural width on both flanks and 4-4-2 is not necessarily the favoured formation for many Championship sides, so it may be that Redfearn sticks with what has been largely successful or tries a 3-5-2 formation.

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