Leeds will play their first game in the JPT this season at Elland Road tonight as the Whites take on Darlington.

Simon Grayson is expected to make several changes to the team that took on Charlton on Saturday. Aidy White returns from injury and is expected to be included alongside Davide Somma who will make his first team debut. Elsewhere, Simon Grayson could choose to give a younger goalkeeper his first taste of the action, with Shane Higgs still out injured and loan-signing, Frank Fielding away with the England U21’s.

I’d also expect Andy Robinson, Mike Grella and Neil Kilkenny to start the game. David Prutton could also make an appearence as Simon Grayson looks to take full advantage of the two week break from League One fixtures.

There are some limits to how many changes Simon Grayson is allowed to make to his squad. The JPT have a rule to permit teams fielding an entirely reserve line-up, so there will be some regulars in the line-up. Simon Grayson speaking on BBC Radio Leeds said;

“We’ll make changes on Tuesday night but within the rules and regulations.

“You can’t go through the season where everything is rosy because injuries are all part and parcel of the campaign.

“We’ve got a good squad when everyone is available but if you’re asking me if it’s a test of my managerial career then I’ll take it every day of the week when we’re 11 games unbeaten.”

Darlington have had a woeful start to the season and currently find themselves without a manager. They’ll be led out tonight by caretaker managers, Craig Liddle and Neil Maddison with new manager, Steve Staunton watching on from the stands. Most of you will remember Staunton as Gary McAllister’s assistant manager. He is also the former Republic of Ireland manager.

So far this season, Darlington have managed just two points from their opening eleven fixtures and currently find themselves bottom of League Two. The never-say-retire legend, Dean Windass is part of their attacking line-up who celebrated his 40th birthday earlier this year.

Head-to-head, Leeds and Darlington have met just four times. Leeds have won three of these meetings, whilst Darlington’s best result against us came in the League Cup back in 1996 when they held us to a 2-2 draw at Elland Road. In the replay, first half goals from Rod Wallace and Ian Harte saw us through to the next round 2-0.

The other two meetings between the sides ended in 1-0 wins to the Whites. Earlier this season we knocked them out of the League Cup to setup a meeting with Liverpool and back in 2007, we knocked them out of the JPT when a second half goal from Paul Huntington was enough to see us through to the next round.

I’m sure the Darlington players will want to put on a performance for their new manager tonight, but even with a weakened side, Leeds United should be better man for man across the field so I wouldn’t expect anything less than a win. Whether people actually care or not though, is something I put up for debate yesterday. At the time of writing this the below poll showed 43% of fans wanted Leeds to win the trophy, whilst 24% were “sat on the fence” alongside yours truly and 33% thought it was a pointless competition.

Expiring 2012: Who would you retain?

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  • Brac

    Heres my team for tonight

    Ankergren, Hughes, White, Prutton, Michalik, Kisnorbo, Robinson, Grella, Kandol, Somma, Kilkenny (4-3-3)

  • Kernow

    I’d give a run out to Robinson, Kandol a chance up front with Grella, and bring in young Andy Milne alongside Naylor (who needs games).