'I spoke to Victor Orta' - Leeds United's League Two neighbours looking to strengthen loan relationship

Leeds United's change in tact this season has allowed a number of the club's rising academy stars to utilise the loan system.

Sunday, 28th March 2021, 6:00 am
Leeds United winger Jordan Stevens in action for Bradford City. Pic: Getty

During Marcelo Bielsa's first two years in West Yorkshire it was often preferred to keep those developing their skills inside the four walls of Thorp Arch.

First team training and games in the Under-23s were in the script as United relied heavily on their home grown talent to fill out the bench amid the race for Premier League football.

Promotion and added academy recruitment - with the likes of Joe Gelhardt and Sam Greenwood joining the ranks - saw Leeds undergo a rethink last summer with five players departing for the Football League as others headed to Europe.

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Alfie McCalmont has arguably been the most successful during his time in League Two with Lancashire outfit Oldham Athletic.

The midfielder has made 28 league appearances for the Latics, scoring eight goals and bagging four assists in total.

Perennial Whites bench warmer Robbie Gotts first joined Lincoln before making a move to Salford City in January - where he has featured heavily.

Striker Ryan Edmondson switched north of the border to Scottish Premiership side Aberdeen but is now testing the waters with Northampton Town in League One.

Two players, though, have found themselves with local League Two side Bradford City.

Defender Bryce Hosannah has spent the whole campaign with the Bantams while wide man Jordan Stevens was a winter transfer window addition at Valley Parade after falling down the pecking order at Swindon Town.

The Whites full-back has been limited to just 11 appearances across all competitions this season through injury and is currently battling a hamstring issue that has kept him sidelined since December.

Stevens has been used primarily as an impact substitute but United's West Yorkshire neighbours are appreciative of the link they have forged with Elland Road in their quest to fill their squad.

Both loans may have not played out as first planned - nor have others elsewhere - but the deals, for Bradford at least, are hopefully the start of something new.

Leeds' change in approach and City's place further down the football pyramid in such close quarters could have benefits that go both ways, as Bradford CEO Ryan Sparks suggested earlier this week.

"It's as good as it has been. There is no doubt about that," Sparks said of the relation with Leeds at Bradford City's fans forum.

"I spoke to Victor Orta in January [and he was] very, very helpful and understanding of our position. We took Bryce at the start of the season and took Jordan in January.

"For sure they have some real talent that can do the business at this level. It's been tough on Bryce. He's had a really bizarre injury where the rehab has been complete but then they've discovered there's even more to the hamstring problem.

"I believe he's had surgery or he's about to have it. Leeds are trusting him to be looked after by us which is a very big statement given the resources they might have over us in the medical department."

Sparks - who took charge at Valley Parade late last year - believes the Bantams would be foolish not to look to academies close by for help.

"We'll be looking to strengthen our relationship with Leeds, Huddersfield Town and Barnsley," Sparks added.

"We've got good relations with all three which I think is really positive for us. We want to bring the best players we can to our football club.

"If you've got no relationships you're on your own. I think that's a foolish approach and it is not one we will take."