Five things learned from Leeds United's defeat to Middlesbrough; featuring Bellusci, Botaka

Leeds United were comfortably beaten 3-0 at Middlesbrough on Sunday - here are five things we learned from the game.

Bellusci shouldn't start

There was an element of surprise from manager Uwe Rosler before kick off, as centre back Liam Cooper was dropped to the bench in favour of Italian defender Giuseppe Bellusci. It was an intriguing decision - and one which did not pay off for Rosler. Bellusci had a nightmare at the Riverside Stadium, failing to clear for the opening goal as David Nugent smashed home, before planting a header into his own net for the second. Cooper should be reinstated immediately following this display from Bellusci, who struggled throughout.

Botaka's promising debut

22-year-old wide man Jordan Botaka signed for Leeds from Dutch side Excelsior on deadline day, and given his pace and trickery, many fans were excited to see him make his debut against Boro. It won't go down in history as one of the greatest debuts of all time, but the DR Congo international looked like he could develop into a major contributor for Leeds. Whilst new signing Will Buckley adds even more competition, Botaka's pace can really help Leeds in the final third - so fans should be encouraged by his first start in a Leeds shirt.

Set pieces must improve

Set pieces can be used to devastating effect, particularly away from home, where the visiting team isn't expected to have much possession, and must try to capitalise on dead ball opportunities. However, Leeds were constantly found wanting in this department, as both Alex Mowatt and Stuart Dallas failed to beat the first man on a number of occasions throughout the game. It was a waste of a good crossing opportunity every time, and Rosler has to demand better quality into the box from his players.

Leeds miss Chris Wood

New Zealand international Wood missed the game through injury, meaning Mirco Antenucci had to lead the line on his own. The Italian did okay, and had a goal unfairly ruled out for offside, but he doesn't offer the physical presence of Wood. The burly striker has already proven himself away from home with a great display against Derby County, and that's what Leeds missed against Middlesbrough - a focal point that can hold the ball up, bring others in to play and be a goal threat too. It's unclear how long Wood will be out for, but it was certainly clear that Leeds missed his presence against Boro.

Byram saga shows no sign of ending

Youngster Sam Byram has come up through the ranks at Elland Road, and whilst he is a key first team player for Leeds, his future is now in doubt. With less than a year left on his contract, Byram looks set to leave the club in the coming months - and it seems that Leeds are already preparing for that. Byram was an unused substitute against Boro, and was even snubbed when Rosler chose to take off winger Botaka, with out-of-favour forward Souleymane Doukara coming on instead. Many fans expected to see Byram coming on, but with the confusion over his future, it seems that he may not be involved quite so heavily - for now at least.

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