Leeds United's Patrick Bamford and Luke Ayling could step up injury return with more U23s minutes

Leeds United's U23s squad may yet offer more minutes for the returning Patrick Bamford and Luke Ayling.

By Joe Urquhart
Thursday, 2nd December 2021, 11:50 am

The Whites duo made their long-awaited comeback from injury together on Monday at Manchester City in the development ranks and will have the opportunity to gain more competitive action on Friday night should they wish.

Mark Jackson's youngsters face a quick turnaround as they host Leicester City in York in the Premier League 2 searching for a first victory in eight league outings.

Bamford completed 90 minutes at the Etihad Campus earlier in the week on his return from ligament damage in his foot while Ayling picked up 45 minutes following knee surgery.

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Leeds United's Patrick Bamford in action against Manchester City in the Premier League 2 on Monday night. Pic: Leeds United

United's No 9 looked sharp in the 3-2 defeat, holding the ball up and linking up play before rifling an effort into the top corner from outside the box only to be denied by a late offside flag.

He was given extra unplanned minutes in Lancashire due to the enforced change of defender Leo Hjelde and could be handed another chance to prove his fitness against the Foxes.

Bielsa said he was an outside bet to be involved against Brentford at first team level this weekend which could well mean another run-out for the Leeds front man alongside Ayling.

"We need to win games," U23s boss Jackson said ahead of the Leicester clash.

"It's simple. We're under no illusions that we're on a sticky run at the minute. We've got to pick the lads up. We've got good players in that dressing room. We've got loads of good players.

"It's just not quite clicking at the minute for us but it will do. We'll keep working hard. They're a great bunch to work with. We've got to start pushing now and getting some wins and that has to start Friday."

The club's development squad has been forced to chop and change amid injuries in the senior ranks at Thorp Arch.

A difficult run of form has seen them slide down the top tier of academy football, sitting just one point above the two-place PL2 drop zone.

"It was a collective message. From me, it was that I can't fault their work rate or their effort," Jackson added after the loss to 10-man City.

"They work hard but if I'm going to be critical - it's about how we manage games. It's clear we have to be better. Even at our level, everyone talks about development, but we have to start winning football matches.

"We have to start winning games quickly."