STEVE Evans has halted his search for competition for Marco Silvestri, stating: “If he performs like he has been doing there will be no goalkeeper coming in.”
The head coach also insists Sam Byram could yet have a long term future at Leeds United with fresh talks with the defender’s agent firmly in the pipeline.
Silvestri has regularly been criticised for individual errors during the current campaign and Evans admitted earlier this month that he was looking to recruit a new shotstopper to compete for the no 1 jersey.
United are short in that department in any case with Ross Turnbull a long term absentee with a broken ankle and USA Under-23s keeper Charlie Horton’s lack of experience further exemplifying the need for a new option.
Yet Silvestri has responded by keeping back-to-back clean sheets in Championship victories against Cardiff City and Huddersfield Town with the 24-year-old producing two particularly impressive saves in the West Yorkshire derby.
Evans had previously stated he was looking to bring in a Premier League goalkeeper with the Whites thought to have been interested in West Brom custodian Anders Lindegaard but the Leeds head coach passionately defended Silvestri’s cause at yesterday’s Thorp Arch press conference.
Asked if he was any closer to bringing in a new ‘keeper and if the links to Lindegaard were true, Evans replied: “The first thing we should recognise is the form of our current goalkeeper.
“The boy Silvestri’s confidence was pretty low and the first thing when you find a goalkeeper who is brittle in confidence is to think ‘if I can raise his confidence where can his performance level go.’
“I think if we signed a new goalkeeper prior to Cardiff and he played against Cardiff the way Marco did and against Huddersfield Town the way he did no-one would be thinking about a goalkeeper. Maybe two or three weeks ago Steve Evans came in and looked at a lot of the DVDs and a lot of the reaction and you think ‘maybe (we need) a goalkeeper’.
“I’ve never thought about a goalkeeper since the Cardiff match and certainly I came away from the Huddersfield match really proud of that young man.
“His confidence levels are high and I was out for dinner on Wednesday night with the president when I bumped into the big fella and he was giving me high fives. It was great to see. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing, people might say I like him too much.
“He probably would have been shuddering away two or three weeks ago because goalkeepers are like strikers aren’t they?
“They live on confidence.
“I think he’s been absolutely stunning for the last two games so I would not demean him by talking about a goalkeeper coming in.
“If he performs like that there will be no goalkeeper coming in.”
Evans also revealed that he believes United may yet get right-back Byram to commit his future to Elland Road.
Byram is out of contract at the end of the season and has turned down a new deal with the 22-year-old in and out of the first team of late and not even named on the bench for Saturday’s clash at Huddersfield.
Evans said: “I had a lovely chat with Sam and I am waiting to speak to Sam’s agent.
“I made a call to him and he’s called me back but we’ve missed each other.
“But we’ll speak and I have explained to Sam in clear detail and I don’t need to say it publicly what I think of him.
“I tell him privately and he knows what I think of him,” he said.
“I think he’s an outstanding young talent and he’s a player that a lot of people in the Championship and above would like to work with.
“But he has to want to be at Elland Road so I am going to have a chat with his representative and just see where they are.
“It’s a cruel world but we only want players that want to be here and I don’t want anyone in the building who doesn’t want to be here.
“Obviously that final decision lies above me but I think Sam wants to be here from talking to him.
“I hope that’s the feeling I get when I speak to his agent,” said Evans.