Marcelo Bielsa has thrown Tom Pearce’s future at Leeds into doubt with his drastic tactical decision against Queens Park Rangers in the FA Cup.
Pearce was making his fifth senior appearance of the season, as the Ormskirk-born has mainly watched on from the bench or the stands with Bielsa turning to the likes of Barry Douglas, Gaetano Berardi and Stuart Dallas over the 20-year-old.
The 6 foot 1 left-back, however, was hauled off just 34 minutes after his half-time introduction, marking a poor return on the field over the past ten weeks – the England Under 21 international last featured for Leeds against Nottingham Forest on October 27.
Altogether, Bielsa has offered Pearce 72 minutes of Championship football, on top of run-outs in each of his side’s Carabao Cup games before their elimination in August to Preston North End.
It is not clear where his next minutes will now come from, with Bielsa evidently unimpressed with what the former Everton youth star has to offer his promotion-chasing side.
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Although it was 20-year-old Pearce that the Argentine manager opted to haul off for Kun Temenuzhkov, Bielsa is not against using young players in his Whites side.
Bailey Peacock-Farrell continued to start in goal at 22, and Aapo Halme, 20, scored Leeds only goal of the game against QPR, while Luke Ayling, Adam Forshaw and Ezgjan Alioski were the only Leeds players to be included in the matchday squad aged over 26 – there were seven teenagers in the 18-man list.
Clearly, if you have the talent, Bielsa will hand you the minutes, so Pearce’s axing after 24 minutes suggest a growing concern that the youth international does not have the backing of his 63-year-old manager.
If that is the case, Leeds will have to tout potential suitors for his signature, having agreed on a new contract in June 2018 that runs until 2022, but could turn to his former club, Everton, who were reportedly interested in a move back in October.