BRENTFORD: TOUMANI COULD FACE EX CLUB
Steve Evans provides team news ahead of Tuesday's trip to Griffin Park...
Steve Evans says he would have "no hesitation" in handing new midfield signing Toumani Diagouraga a United debut against his former club Brentford on Tuesday evening.
The 28-year-old only finalised his switch to Elland Road from the Bees on Monday, but could be set for a quick return to Griffin Park after travelling down with the squad.
“I’d have no hesitation in playing him,” Evans said. “He’s trained very well this morning – the quality was good.
“It raises the bar with everyone when a new player comes in as not only does he try to shine, but the current players try to shine and outdo him to make sure they keep their places.
“We can’t beat anything other than competition.
“People might question whether we have too many midfielders, but it’s about quality over quantity and it’s my job to manage it. We’ve got some good options in there.”
Evans has confirmed that Alex Mowatt will miss out again, with the midfielder having undergone a scan on a thigh problem on Sunday, while Chris Wood is pushing for a recall to the starting line-up after making a positive impact as a substitute upon his return from injury in Saturday’s win over Bristol City.
“There aren’t many changes to the squad, really,” Evans said. “Obviously we now have Toums – he’s on the coach to Brentford.
“Alex Mowatt is still missing, though, and he’s probably going to be a week away from returning.
“He had a scan yesterday and it’s nothing more than deep bruising on his high. He’ll heal from that quickly.
“Woody did ever so well after coming on, but he’s only 30 minutes into his return from injury.
“Do I introduce him at the start? He made such an impact as a substitute on Saturday – something I saw him do many times for Leicester coming off the bench.
“Whether we stay with what we had against Bristol City and see what the boys can achieve, I’ll take the opinions of the staff.
“We’ll talk long and hard as we travel – it’s a long trip down – and we’ll speak this evening before we reach a conclusion and I make the decision.”
Asked about Diagouraga’s arrival, Evans added: “It’s fair to say when I first joined that I had two names I wanted to strengthen the centre of midfield with.
“We got Liam Bridcutt in relatively quickly and the next name on that list was Toumani.
“People can see he’s here for two-and-a-half years, but there may be an option in the contract to take that further.
“He’s a dominant, strong, purposeful and powerful midfield player.
“I ask our supporters to go on LUTV and look back at the footage of our game at home to Brentford in which Toumani was simply the best player on the park by some distance.
“It wasn’t just his breaking up of the play and his power in midfield. He was also passing it all over the pitch and his football was most impressive.”