Talented midfielder Chris Dawson is prepared to push for a loan move away from Leeds United if he is not handed the first-team call shortly.
The pint-sized schemer, who burst onto the scene at the age of 18 when he was handed his United debut in April 2013, is desperate to follow in the footsteps of Alex Mowatt and Lewis Cook and become a firm part of the first-team scene at Elland Road.
But he acknowledges he may need to temporarily move elsewhere to boost his claims.
Dewsbury-born Dawson, considered by many to be the best Academy prospect among the youth-team squad at Elland Road a couple of years ago, saw his progress halted after his debut by a shoulder injury and was not involved with the first-team squad at all last season.
Several jumped ahead of Dawson in the pecking order in 2013-14, but the Wales U21 international insists he is now ready to step up again, with his views endorsed by Academy boss Neil Redfearn.
Redfearn, who felt Dawson was the outstanding player on view in the U21s’ 6-0 Premier League Cup routing of Doncaster Rovers on Monday night, has revealed that if his temporary stint in charge of United had continued that he would have got Dawson more involved in the first-team squad.
Twenty last month, Dawson, who signed a three-year deal in May 2013 shortly after his first-team elevation, feels he is back to his best, having done extra hours in the gym to boost his physique and give himself every chance of propelling himself back into the first-team frame.
Dawson, who skippered the U21s against Rovers, said: “If I can’t get first-team football here and am not considered, I’d have no choice but to try to impress elsewhere and hopefully come back and play in the first team here.
“He (Redfearn) has been massive and helped out a lot so far in my career and has always got encouraging words to say and I am ready to push on a bit further now and hopefully get first-team football.
“If it is not here, then hopefully on loan for a month.
“I think it needs to be the next step now for my career.”
Acknowledging that the last 12 months have not been ideal, Dawson added: “It can be frustrating as in the (past) year, I have
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been overlooked a little bit. It makes me work harder in training and outside of training in going to the gym and working hard to try and get ahead of other people there already.
“I have been going to the gym most nights to try and bulk up a bit as I obviously got a bit of stick for that after my debut.
“I am very pleased with my form. It is definitely getting better every game and hopefully I can keep pushing on now and we will see where it takes me.”
Redfearn was full of praise for the efforts of Dawson, Brazilian playmaker Adryan and several other players in the hammering of Doncaster, but felt the former was the pick of the bunch.
On Dawson, handed his debut by Neil Warnock in his final game in charge and famously likened by the ex-Whites manager to a ‘young Johnny Giles’, Redfearn said:
“For me, Chris was the game’s outstanding player.
“He can play in behind the front or on the right of midfield and played a proper captain’s role. I thought he was aggressive when he was chasing and batting back. He’s got a big future.
“In the spell that I had (in temporary charge), if it had gone on any longer, he would have been in my thinking and I would have got him involved.
“For me, I think he is an immense talent.
“It was just a case of waiting for the right opportunity to put him in. Obviously Cook and Mowatt have gone in there and done well, while Byram is back at it and Taylor won’t be long before he is fit. You are talking about a lot of top young players and Dawson is one of those.
“I think he is maturing brilliantly and coming along fantastic. He was the game’s outstanding player with some top, top performances elsewhere.
“Adryan played his part and did really well, but Dawson was different class.”
Meanwhile, United’s trip to Nottingham Forest on Saturday, December 20, has been moved to a 5.15pm kick-off for Sky TV coverage.