STEVE EVANS has revealed that Lee Erwin is chomping at the bit to make a belated impact at Leeds United – and has praised him for not getting downhearted despite a difficult start to his Whites career.
The former Motherwell striker made his belated debut from the bench as a late substitute in last weekend’s derby reverse to Rotherham United – and is desperately craving more game time.
Summer arrival Erwin was farmed out for a month’s loan at League One side Bury in October, making three appearances before returning to Leeds to start pressing his case to new head coach Evans, who admitted to being interested in taking the 21-year-old to old employers Rotherham before his current club acquired his services in June.
Evans acknowledges that Erwin is not yet fully up to optimum match sharpness, but has offered his compatriot a ray of hope ahead of the hectic run to the end of the calendar year if he can keep improving. Professing to being delighted with the determined attitude of Erwin, in his first professional foray south of the border, Evans said: “He’s got the right like-minded attitude to do well.
“If someone wants it as bad as that, as a head coach and manager, you have to give them that opportunity.
“He’s got such a work ethic in his mind to learn and we can always work with people who want to learn and get better.
“I have said to him privately that nothing would give me greater pleasure than picking him in the team.
“He was born and brought up three or four miles from where I was, so there will always be an affinity.
“But you get picked on your performance levels and at the minute, Lee’s got some good players to have to replace in the team – but also some good players to learn from and he’s doing that.”
Evans has promised to persevere with Erwin as he looks at his existing ‘in house’ options among his squad players – after managing to add just holding midfielder Liam Bridcutt ahead of Thursday’s emergency loan deadline.
The likes of forgotten midfielder Casper Sloth are also likely to fall into that bracket.
He said: “We are working desperately hard for people like Lee to get up to speed and it takes a bit of time.
“If you are brought into a football club with high hopes and really fit and put out to grass in the field, so to speak, then you can’t expect in two or three weeks to suddenly be (match) fit.
“Lee is one of two or three getting there really quickly. But getting there instead of being there.
“You never know until you are pitched in and given that opportunity.
“But we are working hard to get him back to where he was looking (at Motherwell).
“We were looking at some of the footage of the boy during his time at Motherwell and we were looking at different graphics of his body shape, movement and agility of what he had there and it’s probably been away a little bit.
“We are working hard to get him back that way.”
Meanwhile, Leeds are understood to have made a failed pre-deadline enquiry regarding taking Aston Villa midfielder Jack Grealish, who has fallen out of favour with new Villa chief Remi Garde, on loan.