Which Of The Next Leeds United Academy Products Are Ready For The First Team?
With the dead wood floating off down the River Warnock and many of Cellino’s imports being kept out of the team by youth and hard work it seemed like a good time to check out how the Under 21 squad were doing.
I’d watched them getting ripped apart 6-0 by Watford in January and apart from a young striker who came on at the end and looked up for it, it was men against boys. Literally. With so many of the real Under 21s in the first team squad the U21s against Watford were pretty much Under 18s. Watford had a 26 year old Swedish striker who was banging them in on the comeback trail from a drug problem and another tall fit lad who knew where the goal was too.
Against Sheff Weds at home it was announced some of the first team squad would be playing in the U21s. Whether that was a belated attempt to bring in a School Half Term crowd or the coaching staff fancied another look at some of the fringe players is unknown but it worked.
With five minutes to go there were still queues out of the Elland Road Car park and the bottom half of the West Stand was full of parents and kids taking advantage of the £3 and £1 ticket prices.
The kids were delighted with Adryan who is pretty much the LUFC version of a children’s TV presenter. Anytime he does a step over the Under 12s went wild. An affordable version of the skills they see on Vines and Soccer AM, right there live at Elland Road. Albeit against some un-named players from Sheffield.
In midfield Sloth showed if he had the desire to match his skills he could probably be a really good player. Zac Thompson looks like a pretty experienced player now, he must be wondering whether to cut his losses and got and get first team football maybe a division down. Montenegro has a nice touch but rarely left any imprint on the game.
Walters on the other hand looked like he was enjoying himself on the way back from injury and was keen to stay involved throughout.
Edgar Cani runs like Lee Chapman, a tall man skirting the edge of the area with the ball at his feet. I spent most of the game wondering if he could head like Chappy and that just made me think how nuts it is there doesn’t seem to be a single winger at the club who can even match Seb Carol’s level.
I know we’ve only just bought him but it would seem to make sense to send Cani out on an immediate 30 day loan to get him 4 full English games under his belt. He looked comfortable on the ball but was crying out for a decent defence beating pass to work off.
The interest part of the game was the defence and I’m pleased to say there are two players there who I think could definitely be troubling the bench and, should injuries occur, the first team.
Jake Skelton looked capable and at left back Denton was probably the most energetic player on the pitch, his effort was notable at Watford too but it was the other two who made the most impression in an uninspiring game.
The captain Lewie Coyle looked a tidy little full back who worked hard, had excellent movement and knew exactly where he needed to be. He stumbled and lost possession a couple of times but I couldn’t help thinking that if for some reason it didn’t work out with Berardi and Wootton – and neither have established themselves long term there – then I might be looking at our Right Back for next season.
Alongside him Del Fabro did look the finished article. I know it was only a Development Game but he won every header, instructed the rest of the defence and midfield in front of him where to go and got in some blocks. People who saw him play against Sunderland all said they didn’t understand why he hadn’t retained his place but it’s good to know we now have 4 decent centre backs.
We’re not looking at the next Mel or Lucas but with a first team starting to build confidence it’s rewarding to find quality at the next level down too.