David Prutton: Quandary is obvious as Leeds United's Arsenal loanee Eddie Nketiah has to be playing games

LEEDS UNITED’S Arsenal loanee striker and England under 21 international Eddie Nketiah is now back from injury and he will obviously be looking for league starts.

Saturday, 30th November 2019, 6:00 am
BACK FIT: Leeds United's Arsenal loan star Eddie Nketiah. Photo by George Wood/Getty Images.

Eddie has been a threat off the bench but he needs to be playing games and that’s the reason why he came to Leeds.

He obviously enjoys training with the squad and what Whites head coach Marcelo Bielsa is doing with him but he has come to play games and the minutes tallied together probably don’t get anywhere near what Arsenal wanted.

If I was Eddie I would be wanting to be starting games for sure.

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We can see the way that Marcelo runs the Leeds team and trains the players and he has a very set way of going about things.

But it’s Eddie’s career and Eddie’s responsibility and he needs to be playing games in these next six months between now and the end of the season.

It might transpire that he gets those games now at Leeds and that his patience is rewarded as it’s all down to form and fitness but that’s very much a case of what if.

The bottom line is that he needs to be playing games and I think Leeds need to be wary of that and be careful that you don’t just assume that players will hang around gracefully waiting for a chance that may never materialise.

Patrick Bamford has obviously started every Leeds game in the lone striker role and you can’t just swap him with Eddie just to ensure Eddie stays here.

That goes against everything that Marcelo stands for and when Patrick has had fallow periods, Marcelo has stuck by Patrick for his work rate and because he is a striker that he has found who works in the system that he wants to play at Leeds.

Eddie has then done fantastically well when he has been brought on and it will be interesting to see what happens in January and whether Leeds are looking at other strikers or are forced to.

If Eddie chooses to go somewhere else so that it means he is playing, does that then open Leeds up to bringing someone in that really is proven when it comes to playing goals in the Championship and scoring goals?

Someone like a Dwight Gayle if he becomes available?

The galling thing and the problem would be if you had a player there like Eddie who then went to a rival like a Bristol City and pitched up there and scored ten or 15 goals.

That would be an irony.

Eddie is obviously at a fantastic club in Leeds but I just don’t really see the currency in it if he is sitting on the bench when he needs to be getting games under his belt.

As such, it would be absolutely understandable if he moved on.

We all plead patience but six months in your career can set you back one or two seasons if you are not playing.

Leeds are in good nick after the two away wins at Luton Town and Reading this week in which they finished both games very strongly.

Their winning goal at Reading was indicative of what they are about, going from one end to the other after being very patient with a great break and great quality which we know they can do.

The fans will be buzzing with a team that can finish that strongly and show great character but also they will be pleased they have a team who can still win when they are not blowing teams away which they are not doing consistently over the course of a season as yet.

But that’s probably more down to the fact that the teams facing Leeds are raising their games which is to be expected.

Middlesbrough are next under former Leeds defender Jonathan Woodgate and I saw Midlesbrough last week in the 2-2 draw against Hull at The Riverside.

Boro were very good for 37 minutes but then Marvin Johnson got sent off and that sent their game plan awry really.

They found themselves under pressure and Jarrod Bowen was excellent in scoring a brace.

There has been an emphasis on changing the philosophy and the style of play at Boro which doesn’t seem to marry up when you don’t see the results coming in on a Saturday tea time and during the week.

But Jonathan has got the patience and the ownership of the crowd which is absolutely vital and from what I have heard from the playing side of things they are all very impressed with him.

They just need to start getting some results which they did against Barnsley on Wednesday evening but you would have thought they would have beaten Barnsley who have not won since the first game of the season.

It will be a stern test for Leeds against a man and a player that they know extremely well.

Jonathan was a superb player and the type of player that bridged the gap between a certain aesthetic of centre back and one that becomes an elegant, ball playing centre half.

He was a superb asset to that Leeds side at the turn of the century which was the club’s most successful in recent memory.

He will be afforded plenty of respect but as a manager his Middlesbrough side are at the wrong end of the table and Leeds will have to be extremely aware that they will be looking to remedy that.