Brian McDermott has challenged winger Jimmy Kebe to fight for a recall to Leeds United’s starting line-up and answer back at the criticism of his short and difficult loan at Elland Road.
McDermott said Kebe needed to be “tough and strong” after a string of ineffective appearances saw him jeered from the field during United’s 5-1 defeat to Bolton Wanderers seven days ago.
The Mali international – signed by Leeds from Crystal Palace in January - has failed to make a positive impact in Yorkshire and was targeted by United’s crowd last weekend.
Illness forced him to miss a 4-2 defeat to Reading in midweek and has also ruled him out of today’s visit to Burnley but McDermott – himself under pressure after two wins from 15 games – planned to drop the winger regardless.
Asked if he would be able to bring Kebe back into his side after the negative reaction to him, McDermott said: “It’s a tough question.
“Jimmy’s got to be tough and strong. He’s got to show the fans what a good player he is.
“If you get stick you have to come back fighting. That’s the same for me.”
Leeds secured Kebe on a half-season deal midway through the January transfer window and were planning to pursue a permanent transfer if they won promotion to the Premier League but he has lost his place in McDermott’s line-up after nine league starts.
“When you suffer situations like we’re suffering, you have to come out fighting,” McDermott said. “It’s what anyone has to do – all of us.”