Tom Lees says he is determined to become one of the big-hitters at Leeds United after a breakthrough campaign so far.
The 21-year-old’s form at the back has been one of redeeming features of the 2011-12 season for Whites fans and he admits he’s been delighted with his Championship progress after spending the previous two years on loan in the lower leagues at Bury and Accrington.
Lees, who has started 22 league games so far this term, has stepped up to the plate impressively this month in the absence of Patrick Kisnorbo and with the big Aussie KO’d for the rest of the season, the defender has a massive opportunity to firmly establish himself in his favoured position in the heart of the back four.
While not resting on his laurels, Lees says he will be giving his all to make the centre-back berth his own for a good few years to come between now and May.
Lees, who penned a new long-term contract at the end of September, securing his Elland Road future until 2015, said: “I’m pretty pleased with the season so far, but I’m not going to rest.
“I’m going to strive to be one of the key players at the club and I’ve just got to knuckle down and keep working to try and do that.
“If you start to think you are going to play every week, as soon as that happens, someone else will come in. When you get a chance, you’ve got to progress and keep learning and I’m going to try and do that as I’d love to be a key player.”
Despite his progression so far, Lees says he is his own harshest critic, with the Academy product in deep discussions with United first-team coach Ian Miller at the final whistle of the recent 1-1 draw at Crystal Palace after being unhappy with the part he played in the build-up to the Eagles’ opener.
He admits his self-analysis often continues at home, with the Warwick-born defender intent on maximising his talent and becoming the best player he possibly can be.
Lees continued: “A lot of defending is in the head and I want to stay nice and sharp and quick off the mark in games.
“I think a lot of decisions in the Championship can cost you games and the art of being a good defender is a lot to do with concentration and the way you go into games in terms of the mental approach.
“I spoke with Dusty (Miller) after the Palace game as sometimes it’s the minute things that people might pick up.
“I’m quite critical of myself and go home and think about stuff and try and learn from it.”