BBC Sport’s Adam Pope has delivered an exciting verdict on Leeds United midfielder Jamie Shackleton after his performance in the Carabao Cup victory over Fulham.
The 21-year-old was handed a starting role in Marcelo Bielsa’s side’s third round tie at Craven Cottage on Tuesday night, playing in the holding midfield role usually occupied by Kalvin Phillips.
And, writing on Twitter after the game, Pope said: “Shackleton was right in the thick of it tonight too. Really set about the DM role before switching to right back. Really pushing hard now.”
Yet to make a start in the Premier League this season – his three appearances in the competition have only totalled 56 minutes – Shackleton’s chances of doing so were boosted earlier in the summer when Leeds opted against signing a new central midfielder, or at least failing to do so.
Versatile enough to play either in midfield or even as a full-back, the academy product showed in that game against Fulham that he could become a major player for Bielsa this season.
Writing in his post-match player ratings for Leeds Live, Beren Cross gave him an eight, saying: “Looked very comfortable in the defensive midfielder role. Not a position he has played often, if ever, under Marcelo Bielsa. Got around and made a passing option for team-mates as often as he could. Looked neat and nimble on the half-turn. Looked blistering when he moved to right-back in the second half.”
Despite the lack of real game-time in the Premier League, there’s no questioning that Bielsa is a big fan of the Leeds youngster,
In fact, speaking in his pre-match press conference ahead of the game against Southampton in the top-flight last season, the Leeds boss himself said: “I believe in Shackleton as an important alternative for Leeds United. He’s in a similar process to that of Pascal (Struijk).
“The only thing is that Pascal has a continuity that Shackleton hasn’t been able to have. I consider him a player that I can trust and I’m satisfied with what he has brought to the team. Apart from that, he is a very serious player, very applied and very conscious of what is needed to play at this level.”
With Pope now saying that Shackleton is really pushing hard to become a more established part of the first-team squad at Elland Road, fans will surely be buzzing at the prospect of seeing the 21-year-old continue to progress and shine.