Leeds United 1 Brentford 0: Players' reaction to reshuffle praised by boss Heckingbottom
Paul Heckingbottom praised Leeds United for riding the absence of father-to-be Adam Forshaw after unexpectedly losing the midfielder for Saturday's 1-0 win over Brentford.
Forshaw was ruled out of the game at Elland Road after his partner went into labour over the weekend, a loss which contributed to five changes to Heckingbottom’s team.
Leeds United’s head coach already had major doubts over Pablo Hernandez and Kemar Roofe, both of whom have been sent for scans on muscle injuries, and he took a late decision on his line-up having learning on Friday that Forshaw’s wife was due to give birth.
Forshaw has settled quickly into United’s team since a £3m move from Middlesbrough last month and was expected to start against Brentford with Leeds aiming to end a 10-match winless run.
Heckingbottom instead named a midfield pair of Eunan O’Kane and Kalvin Phillips, with O’Kane recalled after failing to make the squad for last Wednesday’s 2-2 draw with Derby County, and the United boss said a deserved win over Brentford was proof that his methods were starting to take hold after three weeks in charge.
“I knew (Forshaw’s) wife was going into labour so I didn’t do the team on Friday,” Heckingbottom said.
“We worked with all the midfielders and we were checking on a lot of players because we knew some were going to be doubtful.
“It’s common sense getting the information across and everybody’s been doing the same training, the same work. Everybody’s been learning their positions and what we want from them.
“So I did have a feeling he might not be available but I wasn’t really concerned.”
Hernandez suffered a groin strain during United’s draw at Derby and Roofe was also injured during that game.
Neither player was fit enough to feature against Brentford and both were omitted, along with left-back Laurens De Bock.
De Bock had struggled badly at Pride Park but Heckingbottom said youngster Tyler Denton was included on the bench ahead of the Belgian to comply with the EFL’s required quota of seven ‘homegrown’ players.
“He was out of the 11 but we’ve got to consider the homegrown players as well,” Heckingbottom said.
“With Adam (Forshaw) missing out we’ve got to have seven in the squad so Tyler came in.”
Roofe and Hernandez are both doubts for Friday’s clash with Middlesbrough and Heckingbottom said: “We’re getting them scanned.
“With them being muscle injuries we’ll check them out and see about the length of time.”
A first-half goal from club captain Liam Cooper earned United their victory over Brentford, a first win in any competition since Boxing Day.
That poor run brought Heckingbottom to Elland Road from Barnsley at the start of this month after Thomas Christiansen was sacked and the United boss admitted to a sense of relief after full-time - while admitting a solitary result had not gone to his head.
Asked how his players were feeling, Heckingbottom joked: “I don’t know. I’m a bit boring for them, talking about how we can get better. They might be having a party down there.
“But there have been lots of people waiting a lot longer than me for that win so I think everyone’s relieved and everyone’s pleased. Credit has to go to the players. They performed really well and deserved it.”