STEVE EVANS is confident that Lewie Coyle will benefit from having more than one positional string to his footballing bow at Leeds United – in the same way as Lewis Cook and Sam Byram have.
The Hull-born right-back, desperately hoping for some game time in this afternoon’s Yorkshire derby at his hometown club, played in front of Gaetano Berardi in an advanced role on the right-hand side of midfield in the 2-1 midweek win over Wolverhampton Wanderers.
After a quiet start settling into the unaccustomed position, Coyle, 20, gradually grew into the role and ended up taking away plenty from an evening where he showed his football versatility – no bad thing for a young player.
Head coach Evans has said that Coyle – who made his first full start in the FA Cup win over Rotherham United in January – will get his chance again at some point in the final three games of the season.
In the past, several head coaches, not just Evans, have looked at several of United’s emerging talents in not just one position over the past few seasons, with Cook having been deployed in several roles across the midfield at certain junctures.
Former Whites player Byram was also handed considerable exposure on the right of midfield, away from his customary right-back position and Evans believes that variety can sometimes be the spice of footballing life for young players – in the right circumstances.
Evans said: “Lewie Coyle’s natural position is full-back. But very much like we did with Sam Byram, you have to move people around – much like we have done with Lewis Cook.
“You have to if you are going to develop young players; development is the word.
“You have to see them in different positions. It is not only a position that they will play, but a position they will become familiar to when people play against them. That’s also helpful.
“He (Coyle) settled in after about 20 minutes and had a good part in the second half. Very much like Lee (Erwin), we knew it would be a case of how long he would last.”
Another player who had his positive moments in Tuesday’s game against Wolves was winger Jordan Botaka, who made his first appearance since coming on from the bench against Fulham on February 23.
It’s been a tough first season for the Congolese at Elland Road, but his cameo against Wolves – which saw him almost fire his first goal for the club when he hit the bar late on – provided a modicum of encouragement and hinted at possible further involvement between now and season’s end.
Evans has also provided the 22-year-old former Excelsior winger with some words of solace – and a message – as he approaches the end of his maiden season in English football.
On Botaka – who has started just two league games for United this term and made nine substitute appearances – he added: “When Jordan is working hard on the training ground and showing the real passion to get into the team and attitude to play, then he has got an opportunity to go and play and I thought he was a spark when he came on.
“Although you have to accept the game is a different one in the last ten minutes when people are tired against you to what they are when they are fresh and it is in the heat of the battle.
“But he was unfortunate not to score after a great move.”