Jesse Marsch declared he has “never been more excited” to be Leeds boss after the club bolstered his squad in the January transfer window.
Marsch is set to hand Premier League debuts to club-record signing Georginio Rutter and Weston McKennie in Sunday’s clash at relegation rivals Nottingham Forest. as his side chase a first league win since November.
Leeds’ top scorer Rodrigo was this week ruled out for two months after surgery to repair a fractured tibia and ankle ligament damage, but Marsch remained upbeat.
The American said fit-again Patrick Bamford had not felt so good in 18 months, while Tyler Adams, Crysencio Summerville, Pascal Struijk and skipper Liam Cooper will all return to contention after injury.
“What an incredible problem to have as a manager,” said Marsch, who will also have Jack Harrison available after the winger’s proposed move to Leicester fell through. “We have great options in every position.
“I’ve challenged the group to be committed to the group concept, whether they’re starting or coming off the bench.
“With five subs we should feel like we can make a big impact and push every match to its limit with the quality that we have now.
“I’ve never been more excited to be the manager of this team and I’m really looking forward to Sunday.”
Rodrigo has scored 12 goals in all competitions this season and his loss is a major blow, but Marsch said Bamford and Rutter were ready to step up.
“Those two are both ready to take more on their shoulders,” the former Salzburg and Leipzig boss said.
“We’re disappointed for Rodri, but the good part is that Pat’s in a really good way physically this week.
“The fact that Patrick is physically in the best shape in at least a year-and-a-half is I think the most important talking point.
“He went through a stretch earlier in the season where he wasn’t taking his chances, but part of it was he just physically wasn’t right. Now he’s on track and we need him.”
France Under-21s striker Rutter made his first Leeds start alongside Bamford in last week’s 3-1 FA Cup win over Accrington after arriving from Hoffenheim in a deal which could rise to £36million.
Marsch added: “I also think Georginio played really well against Accrington and I think he’s ready for some big challenges and big moments with us as well.
“We have a really strong squad now, a balanced squad and we’re excited for the upcoming matches.”
McKennie, 24, could start in midfield next to USA team-mate Adams at Forest after arriving on loan from Juventus with a view to a permanent move.
Leeds are bidding for a second league win on the road this season, which would lift them level on points with Steve Cooper’s 13th-placed side.