'He looks a different player' - Patrick Bamford reveals four-man shortlist for Leeds United Player of the Season
Patrick Bamford says there are four players in the running for Leeds United’s 2019/20 Player of the Season award.
The Whites’ leading goalscorer includes two improved players, a Championship rookie and ‘Mr Reliable’ in his shortlist for the prize.
Stuart Dallas, who started just 10 of Leeds’ Championship games last season and came off the bench 17 times, has started all 37 league fixtures this season and is the first name that comes to Bamford’s mind.
The Northern Irishman filled in at right-back while Luke Ayling recovered from ankle surgery early in the campaign, before moving into midfield and then finally settling at left-back, where he has shone, of late.
“For me, I reckon there’s probably four players,” said Bamford.
“Stuey, last year he wasn’t a mainstay in the team, he was in and out and, because he’s so versatile, switched between positions.
“I think he’s come into the team this year and made left-back his own position and also slotted into midfield.
“If you ask him yourself he’d never have thought he would have played there.”
The next candidate is a player Bamford admits he knew nothing about before he joined Leeds on loan last summer.
Ben White had never played in the Championship when he arrived at Elland Road from Premier League parent club Brighton and Hove Albion, but he took to the highest level of competitive football he has experienced like a duck to water and formed a rock-solid defensive partnership with Liam Cooper.
The 22-year-old has played himself onto the radar of clubs in the top half of the Premier League, with a maturity, consistency and a reading of the game beyond his years.
“Ben was an unknown quantity, I certainly didn’t know about him before he came and he’s going to be very good,” said Bamford, who also cited White’s good friend and homegrown talent Kalvin Phillips as a potential award winner.
Phillips is tipped widely to become a top-flight player and an England international in the near future and his performances attracted national team boss Gareth Southgate to Elland Road this season. What Bamford appreciates about the defensive midfielder is his ability to replicate impressive display after impressive display on a regular basis.
“Kalvin everyone knew about, he’s Mr Reliable,” said Bamford.
“Obviously sometimes he can fly into the odd crunching tackle, which is what the fans love but, for 99 per cent of the games, he gives an eight-out-of- 10 performance.”
Bamford’s fourth pick is a team-mate he believes has become a ‘different player’ in his second season under Marcelo Bielsa, adding a final product to his play that has become instrumental in Leeds’ attacking system.
On-loan Manchester City winger Jack Harrison, for whom Leeds have an option to buy this summer, has improved almost every single quantifiable aspect of his play.
The trust Bielsa places in the youngster has been evidenced by the times he has been tasked with attacking and defending the left flank all on his own.
“I’d say alongside them, Jack Harrison,” said Bamford.
“Look at him last year, to this year. You could see last year in bits and bobs that he had the quality, he had the potential but this year he looks like a different player to me.
“He’s confident, he’s having more of an end result, it’s more reliable, what’s going to come. It’s going to end in a good shot or a finish. Last year that wasn’t always the case. He’s up there with a shout.”
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