CALLUM Nicell highlighted the influence of Chelsea loanee Lewis Baker after the teen midfielder’s dream weekend for Leeds United.
Nicell signed a new two-year deal with the club on Saturday morning, ensuring he will remain at Elland Road at least until 2020.
The 18-year-old had earlier got himself on the scoresheet as United’s under-23s hammered Bristol City’s development side 5-0 at Elland Road on Friday with United naming a strong team and fielding several first-team players during the international break.
Summer striker signing Patrick Bamford started up front before the £7m recruit had to be substituted with a knee injury while the Whites XI also featured Manchester City loanee winger Jack Harrison plus Chelsea loanee duo Baker and ’keeper Jamal Blackman.
Baker plays in a similar position to Nicell who admitted the 23-year-old was a player he could particularly learn from.
Asked about the influence of United’s first-team players following Friday’s victory, Nicell said: “You learn a lot from them, especially Baker in a similar position to me.
I have been here since the age of seven, so I’m delighted to sign again and stay here for longer. It’s very pleasing. Obviously I’ve worked hard for it so to get given a new deal before my next one runs out is even better so it takes some pressure off.Callum Nicell
“The way he just talks to me and his positions and where we picks the ball up, you can learn a lot from them and it obviously helps having them in the team. It makes us better.”
Nicell has been edging towards the first-team picture at Leeds since the latter stages of the 2016-17 season when he was taken by former head coach Garry Monk with the senior squad to a Championship game at Fulham.
The midfielder made the bench for a 1-1 draw with Sunderland at Elland Road in April and was a regular for the Under-18s as they topped their Professional Development League last season. Nicell – on the books at Leeds since the age of seven – has stepped up into the Under-23s this term and he claimed the second goal in Friday’s 5-0 rout of Bristol City’s development squad, finishing off an attack which covered the full length of the field.
The midfielder then put pen to paper on a new deal the following morning.
“It feels amazing,” said Nicell.
“I have been here since the age of seven, so I’m delighted to sign again and stay here for longer. It’s very pleasing.
“Obviously I’ve worked hard for it so to get given a new deal before my next one runs out is even better so it takes some pressure off.”
Mirroring United’s first team who are top of the Championship, Leeds’ under-23s are also unbeaten and Nicell added: “We’ve not lost yet, so hopefully we can continue to work on this, keep doing that and see how long we can remain unbeaten.
“Obviously there was a lot of first teamers on Friday so we hadn’t really had a chance to train as a team.
“So to do that and play as well we did shows a lot about the team - how we played.
“I’ve not scored in a while so that was good.
“It was the best feeling. As soon as I hit it I ‘saw’ it go in, so ... It’s not often I do it so hopefully I can add more to my game.”
Nicell started in centre-midfield in Friday’s clash against Bristol City in which Bamford opened the scoring before leaving the field on the half-hour mark following a clash of legs in the City box. Leeds were assessing the striker over the weekend with United waiting to find out how long Bamford may be sidelined for although the Whites are hopeful it won’t be a lengthy lay-off with the striker able to leave Elland Road and drive himself home following the incident.
Seventeen-year-old winger Jack Clarke produced a brilliant display in the victory as he notched two assists and a goal to stun the visitors to put Leeds in full control after just 25 minutes. Clarke’s first act was to provide Bamford with a tap-in as the winger played a lovely one-two with Jordan Stevens which saw Clarke burst into the area and lay the ball on a plate for the striker at the back post.
Minutes later he again picked out a decisive pass from the right which found midfielder Callum Nicell alone on the edge of the box and he lashed home a lovely strike to double the scoreline. The youngster then grabbed one himself as Manchester City loanee Harrison turned provider with an inviting ball from the left which was met with a emphatic half-volley.
Stevens added a fourth after a fine one-two with substitute Ryan Edmondson before defender Robbie Gotts rounded off the afternoon with a curling effort from outside the box.