Leeds United

Leeds United

Premier League • England

Jesse Marsch confirms Jack Harrison plan amid transfer interest after analysing first Leeds pre-season defeat and Gray injury

Jesse Marsch overseeing a Leeds United warm up

Jesse Marsch has reiterated that Jack Harrison is not for sale after the winger took part in a 1-0 friendly defeat to Aston Villa for Leeds United.

Leeds’ pre-season preparations continued with a narrow defeat to Villa in Brisbane. Danny Ings scored the winner from the spot after 63 minutes. Illan Meslier had earlier saved another penalty from Philippe Coutinho in the first half.

It was Leeds’ first friendly since the departure of Raphinha to Barcelona, although they had already been playing without him. With more than a month of the transfer window to go, other themes from the market could overshadow their preparations.

For example, another player tipped to follow the likes of Kalvin Phillips and Raphinha away has been Harrison. The former Manchester City product is a target for Newcastle.

A report earlier this week revealed Newcastle’s planned £20million offer will not be enough to tempt Leeds into a sale. Now, their manager has clarified their stance after Harrison played more than an hour of the Villa defeat.

Jesse Marsch told a press conference: “There’s always been interest in Jack but I know he’s happy here. For me Jack is a big part of plans moving forward.”

One of the players who came on for Leeds at the same time Harrison went off was teenager Archie Gray. However, his cameo only lasted 11 minutes after he was on the receiving end of a tough challenge from John McGinn.

Marsch hopes the 16-year-old has not broke any bones despite his initial pain.

He explained: “We’re hopeful that it’s not too bad. He was in some pain initially but we’re hopeful nothing is broken.

“Hopefully it’s an ankle sprain and we’ll see the severity of it in the next couple of days.”

There may have been some discontent about McGinn’s forceful approach in a friendly against such a young player. However, Marsch denied his protests from the touchline were for the Scotland international.

He clarified: “I was yelling at the ref and he thought I was yelling at him. If the game is controlled it maybe doesn’t lead to the aggressiveness. It’s normal.”

Jesse Marsch reviews friendly

That was Leeds’ first defeat of Marsch’s first pre-season with the club, after previous wins over Blackpool and Brisbane Roar.

The former RB Leipzig manager can therefore analyse what remains a work in progress, but he feels they ticked some boxes.

Marsch summarised: “I thought for the most part in the first 60 minutes that we had a good performance. If we’re cleaner in our transition moments hopefully we can find our goal.

“Defensively we have a couple of things with our back line. Sometimes we play too tight.

“That’s what pre-season is for. We were able to tick a lot of boxes.”

Full-backs under examination

The game gave Marsch another opportunity to field new arrival Rasmus Kristensen, who lasted just over an hour.

The American feels his former Salzburg pupil already has a good understanding of what he wants.

Marsch said: “Rasmus understands me well; he understands the tactics. He’s integrated himself well and we’ll need to push himself.”

On the opposite side of defence, Leeds gave a start to Leif Davis due to Junior Firpo’s injury. The former Bournemouth loanee gave away the penalty from which Villa won the game due to a handball.

Marsch examined: “Junior had been having a good pre-season. Davis stepped in and I said I don’t want to treat this like a trial but it is.

“I thought the penalty was unfortunate.”

Leeds still have fixtures against Crystal Palace and Cagliari to fulfil before the season begins in August. Their starting lineup against Villa was: Meslier; Kristensen, Koch, Llorente, Davis; Roca, Adams; James, Aaronson, Harrison; Bamford.

By the end of it, their lineup was: Meslier; Drameh, Koch, Struijk, Hjelde; Forshaw, Klich; Summerville, Rodrigo, Sinisterra; Greenwood.

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