Adam Pope has delivered his verdict on Leeds United starlet Jamie Shackleton, and has tipped him to have a “big impact” this season in the Premier League.
The 21-year-old has made a couple of appearances for Marcelo Bielsa’s side in the top-flight, but the only game that he has started came in the Carabao Cup second round clash against Crewe when he played the full 90 minutes.
Now, in response to a fan’s tweet about this season being a break-out one for Shackleton, Pope delivered his take on the young midfielder.
He said: “Thing is he’s made 60 plus appearances so he’s never been far away from it under Marcelo. If he has better luck with injuries he could continue to have a big impact.”
Yet to make a start in the Premier League this season, 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.
The 21-year-old is one of the players who should benefit hugely from that decision, and while he’s yet to really make his mark on the first-team just yet, it’s not because his manager doesn’t rate him.
In fact, speaking in his pre-match press conference ahead of the game against Southampton in the Premier League last season, Bielsa 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.”
And, speaking after his cameo in the 5-0 win over West Brom earlier last year, the Leeds boss said of the 21-year-old: “Good organisation, energetic, he’s quick, he can surprise opponents, plays in a position which has many varieties as a box-to-box midfielder.”
But as always, actions speak louder than words, and while Bielsa may publicly voice his approval of Shackleton, the only real way he can show that is by giving him the opportunities to start in the Premier League.
With no new central midfielder arriving at Elland Road over the summer, the Leeds boss now has the perfect chance to finally unleash Shackleton.