Leeds United: Becchio rest is for team gains says manager

Simon Grayson is hoping that Luciano Becchio's break from the starting line-up at Leeds United will allow the Argentinian striker to recharge his batteries for the League One run-in.

Becchio was relegated to the bench for the first time in 24 league matches for Leeds' recent 2-0 victory over Southend United at Elland Road, and Grayson admitted the 25-year-old had earned a rest after a long and physical start to his career in England.

The former Barcelona striker was brought to Elland Road from Spanish second division club Merida UD on a three-year contract in August, and his first season in the Football League has been a major success.

Becchio began the term as a substitute but was promoted to United's starting line-up by Gary McAllister for their third league match of the term, and he retained a starting place up until Southend's visit to Elland Road on January 27.

The forward is the only player in Grayson's squad to have played in every competitive match this season, but Lee Trundle's arrival on loan from Bristol City gave United's manager the opportunity to pull an increasingly jaded Becchio out of his team.

The forward has been a substitute in both of Leeds' last two fixtures, but he is still likely to be heavily involved in the closing stages of the term after scoring 12 goals before the turn of the year.

Grayson said: "He's had a long season, he's played a lot of games and it was a situation where he could have a rest. Bringing in Lee Trundle helped me with that situation.

"I explained the decision to him and he was fine with it because he realises what this is all about. If another striker comes in then that creates more competition for them all and players understand that this is a squad game.

“Individuals will be disappointed but it is for the bigger picture – the team doing well.”

Trundle’s immediate future is unclear with his month-long loan from Bristol City due to end after Monday’s game against Millwall.

And although Leeds may sign Liam Dickinson from Derby County when the Football League’s emergency loan market opens, Becchio and Jermaine Beckford are the two strikers that Grayson can confidently rely on for the rest of the campaign.

Becchio looked in need of a rest after a gruelling period of games before and after Christmas, when the responsibility on his shoulders increased as a result of Beckford’s absence through injury, but United’s squad as a whole has held up well amid the physical demands of their second season in League One.

Frazer Richardson is working towards his return from a thigh injury, though he will not play against Millwall on Monday night, and Paul Huntington and Enoch Showunmi are the only other players that Grayson cannot presently call upon.

Huntington has endured the most frustrating of seasons after twice undergoing surgery on a persistent groin injury, and Leeds have not set a timescale for the defender’s recovery from his latest bout of surgery.

The problem has limited him to seven appearances this term, and Huntington’s lack of fitness has prevented him from making any impression during Grayson’s short reign as manager.

Grayson said: “He’s had an operation again and he’s back doing his rehab.

“We’re not quite sure of the timespan on when he’s going to be back (in contention for the first team).

“He’s got to be frustrated because when a new manager comes in, every player wants to be fit and ready to work.”


Samuel Saiz celebrates scoring the opening goal against Bristol City.

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