NEIL REDFEARN has praised the attitude of forgotten Leeds United striker Noel Hunt – and insists he has been treated to some unjust criticism during his time at Elland Road.
Hunt had endured a difficult time since joining on a free transfer from Reading in the summer of 2013 and has not found the net for the club in 22 appearances.
The 31-year-old, who has not featured for the Whites since August 12, has not escaped criticism from some sections of the club’s support for his barren streak, but was at least afforded a crumb of consolation when appearing for the development squad in Monday’s 6-0 Premier League Cup blitzing of Doncaster Rovers.
Hunt fired home a stunning first-time shot just after the interval to record his maiden goal in Whites colours at Elland Road, with his work-rate and enthusiasm rubbing off on the club’s Under-21s side in their vibrant showing against Rovers.
While his goals dearth has been obvious, his attitude, effort and positive influence upon team-mates has never been in doubt, according to Redfearn.
On Hunt, who was given a warm reception from fans when he was substituted in the second period, Academy boss Redfearn said: “For whatever reason, he has had a little bit of bad press.
“But to be fair, it’s unjust because his attitude is good.
“He wants to do well and wants the club to do well. He also genuinely wants other people to do well.
“I was pleased for him on Monday. He had a run-out and needed a game as did Zac Thompson and it’s important that these lads get game time as they are part of the football club.
“I thought he applied himself well and looked after some of the younger players as well.”
He added: “Noel is such a great lad and team player and desperately wants to do well. He has been asking for a game for two or three weeks now and has played in the last couple of games and is a good professional. He understands the game.
“Still, at his age, his influence is infectious on the younger players because he wants to do well.
“He makes them want to play and talks to them.”
Redfearn believes Monday’s handsome cup victory over Rovers will have alerted clubs to the prowess of a number of United youngsters, with the Academy chief open to the prospect of several furthering their career development by moving out on loan if it suits all parties.
It is a step successfully taken by a number of academy level over the past few seasons, with the latest to depart on loan being right-back Lewie Coyle, who joined Vanarama North outfit Harrogate Town ahead of their weekend clash at Chorley.
Redfearn said: “I would have thought there’s clubs interested in taking some of our young players after that and if it is the right loan move for the player and the club and it benefits everybody all around, then I would have thought there’s nothing really to discuss.
“But it has to be the right move.
“If it is the right move for the lads and it benefits them and the club, then obviously I would have thought the club would consider it. Lewie Coyle has gone to Harrogate, a Conference North club who are one underneath the Conference National who are not far off the Football League.
“It will do him good. He will get half a dozen games in and it will be muck and bullets, so he will have to deal with it and I think he will benefit from it.
“Players in the past have gone out for little loan spells and come back and have looked different players.
“It is important in their progression.”