Dan James hoping Leeds United learn from recent lessons ahead of West Ham visit

Dan James will be a particularly busy man this week.

Wednesday, 22nd September 2021, 4:33 pm
Updated Wednesday, 22nd September 2021, 4:34 pm

Just three weeks after becoming a Leeds United player, the winger has become a dad.

James managed to juggle family and football matters on Tuesday, flying from Manchester after the birth of his son to London to help Leeds into the Carabao Cup fourth round with victory at Fulham.

A dream day was also a dramatic one as United needed penalties to progress past the Cottagers after a goalless draw.

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CREATOR: Leeds United winger Dan James, right, helped the Whites carve out plenty of chances in Tuesday night's clash at Fulham, above, but none of them were taken in a goalless draw. Picture by Bruce Rollinson.

But James says United’s progression could have been less stressful after the Whites again squandered too many chances, something James is keen for Leeds to address when attention turns back to the football.

Leeds will return swiftly to action on Saturday afternoon when West Ham United provide the club’s latest Premier League opponents in a 3pm kick-off at Elland Road.

Marcelo Bielsa’s Whites are still seeking their first league win of the new season and are approaching the contest sitting fourth-bottom on three points after five games played.

The latest of those points came via Friday night’s 1-1 draw at Newcastle United in a contest not too dissimilar to Tuesday night’s cup clash at Fulham.

Leeds squandered a host of chances in both games, especially in the first half and, ultimately, had to settle for draws.

Penalties eventually got United over the line at Craven Cottage but three-point hauls are now needed in the league and busy new dad James says Leeds must take their chances when they are on top.

“We created a lot of them in the first half, just like the game the other day [at Newcastle],” James told LUTV.

“It’s something that we have got to work on. We have got to score when we are on top.

“The second half was a little bit tougher; I think there were quite a lot of counter-attacks.

“We saw the game out towards the end.

“They had a couple of headers that nearly went in but, except that, I don’t think they threatened too much.

“We just need to keep making those chances by putting them away.”

At 23, James has become a young dad and the winger was hugely impressed with the composure of two Whites youngsters at Fulham who are four years younger than him.

The contest ended goalless after 90 minutes, by which point United’s side featured two 19-year-old debutants in Joe Gelhardt and Stuart McKinstry who himself had replaced 19-year-old full debutant Crysencio Summerville.

As the game went to spot kicks, Gelhardt and McKinstry were then both required to take penalties as a dramatic shoot-out went to sudden death.

The teens held their nerve to produce impressive strikes from 12 yards out as Leeds went through - capping a memorable day for James who became a dad just a matter of hours before Tuesday’s cup tie.

The winger’s girlfriend gave birth to a boy on Tuesday lunchtime as the couple became parents and James spent a few hours in Manchester following the birth of their child.

The 23-year-old then flew to Craven Cottage by helicopter and played a starring role as Bielsa’s Whites put themselves into Wednesday night’s fourth-round draw.

“I want to thank the manager for letting me stay up in Manchester to see my baby’s birth,” said James.

“It was absolutely amazing and, thankfully, the baby was born just in time for me to get down for the game.

“It’s double happiness! As soon as the baby was born I had about an hour with the missus.

“We had our own time which is obviously nice and I ended up flying from Manchester on helicopter.

“It was nice, I got here and I played a full game and thank you again to the manager for letting me do that.”

Reflecting on Tuesday’s game and saluting the club’s youngsters, James said: “I think maybe we were disappointed because we created a lot of chances to go and win the game in normal time. But, thankfully, the boys stepped up and put the pens in the back of the net.

“All credit to the young boys that came on as well, they did so well and they stuck their penalties away. Full credit to them.

“It’s not easy to stand up, come on for their debut and take a penalty.

“The number of penalties they were at, they maybe thought they wouldn’t have to take one but you have got to be ready and they certainly were.”

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Thank you Laura Collins