Leeds United’s Eunan O’Kane reveals frustration over limited late-season role

Eunan O'Kane takes on Nottingham Forest's Michael Mancienne in January last season. PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe
Eunan O'Kane takes on Nottingham Forest's Michael Mancienne in January last season. PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe
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EUNAN O’KANE said he was relaxed about the unforeseen change of manager at Leeds United after voicing frustration at his lack of involvement in the club’s Championship run-in.

The Republic of Ireland international insisted he and Garry Monk, who quit as Leeds head coach two weeks ago, had parted on good terms but expressed disappointment at his limited role in the second half of United’s season.

O’Kane made only eight starts in the Championship after Christmas and watched a series of games from the bench as Leeds dropped out of the play-off zone in the last month of the term.

Monk, who signed O’Kane from Bournemouth in the closing hours of the transfer window last August, recalled the midfielder for the final two games of the term but Leeds were condemned to seventh place in the table by a run of one win in eight matches.

O’Kane is on international duty ahead of the Republic’s World Cup qualifier against Austria on Sunday and he will return to pre-season training with United to find different management in charge after Monk’s dramatic resignation from his job.

Speaking to Irish media, O’Kane said: “If you get anxious about things changing in football then you’re in the wrong game.

Leeds United's Eunan O'Kane and former head coach Garry Monk. PIC: Martin Rickett/PA Wire

Leeds United's Eunan O'Kane and former head coach Garry Monk. PIC: Martin Rickett/PA Wire

“Obviously towards the end of the season I didn’t play as many games as I would have liked. It’s a little bit frustrating for me and that frustration is directed at (Monk) because he’s the guy picking the team. “But it was fine. I can only compliment him for the season that we’ve had and the part that he had to play in it.

“Our relationship is good. When he resigned we exchanged messages just to say thanks for what he’s done for me and what I’ve done for him.”

O’Kane was brought in by Monk on a two-year deal to add experience to United’s squad having won promotion from the Championship with Bournemouth 12 months earlier. His season was disrupted by a groin strain suffered in November, a problem which sidelined O’Kane for two months, and he struggled to regain his place.

O’Kane was an unused substitute for six successive matches in April, at a time when United’s play-off bid was faltering and captain Liam Bridcutt was struggling with injury.

Obviously towards the end of the season I didn’t play as many games as I would have liked. It’s a little bit frustrating for me

Leeds United’s Eunan O’Kane

O’Kane and his fiancé are currently involved in a legal battle to have a planned humanist wedding recognised in both Eire and Northern Ireland and he escaped unscathed from a car crash near Derry prior to the Republic’s friendly against Mexico last week.

“Anyone who’s been involved in (an accident) knows it’s not a nice experience, no matter how small or how big it’s made out to be,” O’Kane said. “Thankfully everyone is here and in one piece, nobody was hurt and that’s the main thing.

“I don’t think there was any injury to anyone. Obviously you’re a little bit shaken, maybe a little bit stiff the next day but we’ve been fine. It’s not a big deal.”

Last season's Leeds United captain, Liam Bridcutt. PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe

Last season's Leeds United captain, Liam Bridcutt. PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe

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