The Yorkshire Evening Post‘s Phil Hay, who covers Leeds, has reported that Marcelo Bielsa had been keeping Patrick Bamford out of U23’s action in the hope that the striker would prove he was ready for a return to the first team without having a game with the development side.
Well, Hay reports that Bamford himself said:
“He (Bielsa) said ‘I want you in the first team, I don’t want you playing for the 23’s”
Leeds have been struggling in the hitman’s absence and clearly Bielsa was feeling the pressure to get him back into the lineup amid Kemar Roofe’s scoring drought – the striker has scored just once in his last seven appearances, despite having netted 13 previously.
Bamford, having just returned from his own knee injury in last weekend’s 3-1 defeat to league leaders Norwich, said that the players coming back from spells on the sidelines can boost the Whites’ promotion bid. One of those is Izzy Brown – the Chelsea loanee has yet to make an appearance for the Elland Road outfit, but is currently working back to match fitness.
Was Bielsa’s challenge to Bamford to make a return to the starting XI without Under-23’s action a bad sign for Brown?
The 22-year-old midfielder joined Leeds in the summer having spent the previous season on loan at Brighton, where he suffered an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury that has ensured he has yet to play for the first team.
He made his first competitive appearance for the club in November, playing 45 minutes with the Under-23’s and has continued to do so since, despite other injuries setting him back.
Bielsa elected to skip putting Bamford through the Under-23’s but has not done so with Brown, perhaps showing that the Argentine isn’t too concerned about how soon the Chelsea man returns from injury, despite the poor form of Mateusz Klich and the departure of Samu Saiz last month.
The challenge issued to Bamford is as much a warning to Brown that he may not be a part of Bielsa’s plans when he finally returns to match fitness.
The indoor football skills in the video below have to be seen to be believed…