When it comes to Leeds’ academy prospects, not a great deal of them secure regular first-team football.
Marcelo Bielsa is a wonderful coach but when assessing his team selection, he’s a rather stubborn man. Unless there are injuries, he rarely changes his team and thus, it’s usually the same collection of players we see in the starting XI.
Unfortunately for the Argentine, he has had to tinker this term. Injuries to Liam Cooper, Diego Llorente and Robin Koch have meant a makeshift defence often operating for Leeds.
Fikayo Tomori has reportedly tempted them in the transfer market but on Sunday they’ll need internal solutions, rather than external ones.
Luke Ayling and Pascal Struijk kept a clean sheet against Burnley but were picked apart by a free-flowing Tottenham team last weekend.
They’d unlikely have too many problems in the FA Cup against Crawley on Sunday, but given their inferior opposition, it would be an ideal time to utilise some fringe players.
One such individual is Charlie Cresswell. The 18-year-old centre-back has been forced to watch on from the sidelines this season and has only made one start – a Carabao Cup penalty shootout defeat to Hull City.
It was a game that Noel Whelan described the teenager as “exceptional” in, but that’s not the first time the pundit has waxed lyrical about Cresswell.
After the defender signed a new contract last year, he called him “fantastic,” before suggesting the youngster “is the future” of the football club.
It’s not hard to see why either. Cresswell is competent on the ball and during that clash against Hull, he was a pillar of solidity.
After the U23s struck seven goals past Fulham this term, Leeds Live typified the centre-back in their match ratings:
“His security on the ball was convincing, even indulging in a Cruyff turn inside his own defensive third to evade danger in the second half. Perhaps the best action of his during the game was the frequent interceptions he made. Cresswell read the play excellently, seizing on forward passes as Fulham looked to break, turning the visitors’ attacks into countering opportunities for the Whites.”
Although Premier League action is perhaps too soon for the talented young defender, an FA Cup clash with League Two opposition surely suits him perfectly.
It would be a shame if Bielsa doesn’t unleash him on Sunday afternoon – he needs to prove that he’s ready for more senior football.