IF you keep pulling long enough on an elastic band it will snap – just as Leeds United did at Birmingham City on Saturday.

There’s only so far you can stretch a threadbare squad as manager Daniel Farke discovered as his charges came apart at St Andrew’s.

They went down 1-0 in stoppage time to a Lucas Jutkiewicz penalty, after Dan James brought down Ethan Laird to provide a Championship home victory for the Blues’ new owners, including former NFL legend Tom Brady, who watched from the stands.

Leeds went into the game under a dark cloud as the midweek Carabao Cup win against Shrewsbury Town was overshadowed by news that Willy Gnonto and Luis Sinisterra would not be considered for the Championship game.

Gnonto has been told he will not be sold, despite two bids from Everton, and is subject to an internal disciplinary matter and not considered for selection.

It now seems Sinisterra is on the same path although post-match Farke would not expand on the Colombian’s absence: “He was not available. There will be a time when we speak about this topic. We don’t judge it and don’t explain it."

The pair are both class players and their absence meant that Farke was without eleven men for the game because of injury and unavailability. Two goalkeepers named on the bench told its own story, Leeds are struggling for bodies.

The sullen mood was reflected on the pitch as Leeds struggled to put any meaningful football together and they have to use the rest of the transfer window wisely to bring in players of quality.

Five changes were made from the previous week’s 2-2 draw with Cardiff and there were only two players, Luke Ayling and Pascal Struijk, which started United’s last Premier League match against Tottenham at the end of May.

Leeds showed little up front in a poor game. It spoke volumes for their feeble attack that midweek signing, centre-back Joe Rodon, was sent on as a forward after Birmingham’s winning penalty.

Neither side had a shot on target in the first-half and the only thing resembling action came in the last knockings of a drab encounter.

Leeds had an escape when Kevin Long missed with a free header at a corner on 80 minutes. Illan Meslier then saved from a Juninho Bacuna 25-yarder to keep Brum at bay.

York-born Sam Byram went close to stealing a goal for Leeds with a header but with a goal-less draw seemingly on the cards for two shot-shy sides City snatched the points from the spot.

Farke, who has walked into a mess at Elland Road, refused to panic and has called for patience before reiterating the need for quality additions in virtually all positions in the squad.

The German manager has been vocal about United’s shortcomings, and supporters, certainly, for now, are prepared to cut him plenty of slack. It is going to be some time before he can properly mould Leeds into a strong Championship side.