Improving Leeds United winger Jack Harrison eyeing high rank in Championship's assists charts
FIFTEEN games into the new season, Leeds United winger Jack Harrison has already bettered last season's haul of assists.
Three from the on loan Manchester City winger in his first campaign at Leeds but already four back for a second season at Elland Road.
Thanks to Saturday's important strike against Queens Park Rangers, the 22-year-old is also halfway there to equalling last season's goalscoring tally of four.
Improvement all round - with the Whites loanee admitting he is clearly benefiting from the familiarity of a second season under head coach Marcelo Bielsa and specifically targeting high prominence in the Championship's assists charts.
Brentford's Said Benrahma topped those charts last season with 14, ahead of Norwich City's Emiliano Buendia, Hull City's Kamil Grosicki and United's own Spanish wizard Pablo Hernandez with 12 apiece.
Despite featuring heavily through 34 league starts and five outings from the bench, Harrison had to make do with three yet four have now arrived in the 22-year-old's last five games.
As far as this season so far is concerned, only four players have more with Bristol City's Niclas Eliasson leading the way with six followed by Luton Town's Izzy Brown, Charlton Athletic's Jonathan Williams and West Brom's Matheus Pereira with five apiece.
Whilst ultimately ending up on the losing side, it was Harrison's cross that allowed Gjanni Alioski to tap home a United response in the 2-1 loss at Millwall and two weeks later Harrison then teed up Kalvin Phillips for the only goal of the game in the 1-0 success at home to Birmingham City.
Just three days later, the City loanee's fine looping cross set up Eddie Nketiah for a dramatic 87th-minute equaliser in the 1-1 draw at Preston North End and Harrison then produced what he admitted was possibly his best display yet for Leeds in Saturday's 2-0 win at home to QPR in bagging the double whammy of an assist and a goal.
With Leeds having drawn 0-0 at Sheffield Wednesday in between the Preston and QPR ties, it means that Harrison has either set up or scored United's last five goals.
That, says Harrison, is exactly what he is aiming for, with the Stoke-born footballer thriving in his second season on loan at Leeds backed by the benefits of a first campaign to bed in.
"Having that first year under my belt has definitely helped with the comfortability and the figuring out what the manager wants and what the team requires," Harrison told the YEP.
"It's quite important to fulfil those needs as well.
"I am just always trying to do what is best for the team and having that year has definitely helped with trying to figure all of that stuff out. The lads have made it really easy once you figure it out.
"It's complicated at first to work with Marcelo with the amount of detail that he puts in but if you try and embrace this as a player you are going to learn a lot and that's exactly what I have tried to do.
"I have learnt so much playing with him already and in this second year I'm just looking to do the same thing and looking to improve each and every game."
"I want to be an impactful player and contribute to the game as much as I can and with goals and assists, that's how you do it as a player in my position.
"I am really pleased that the stats are starting to come up a little bit and I am just trying not to get too caught up on it and just trying to do it every week."
Given his crucial involvement in United's last five goals, Harrison is fast becoming one of the first names on the team sheet despite particularly fierce competition for spots out wide.
Even with the now fit again Pablo Hernandez having missed half a dozen games with first a calf issue and then a hamstring injury, Tottenham Hotspur's £9m summer recruit and now Whites loanee Jack Clarke has so far had to make do with just 115 minutes of action in the EFL Cup.
Harrison, though, is making the left wing spot his own and says the squad as a whole is thriving from the strength in depth.
"It's like a healthy competition as well," said Harrison.
"We are always pushing each other each day in training, it's not malicious at all.
"I think at times it can get a little bit like that in teams, especially when you have young players that want to play.
"But all the lads are really encouraging each other and I think it's a great team that we have got, we are always pushing each other to do better and that's what is ultimately going to make us better as a team as well."
As too, will further Harrison assists and goals with the Whites loanee revealing that he is now targeting a more composed approach in his second season at Elland Road.
Reflecting on his 82nd-minute strike against the Rs on Saturday in front of a packed and ultimately ecstatic Kop, Harrison reasoned: "It's important not to get too excited.
"I think at times this year I have been too excited and maybe missed my opportunities but if you score at that end in front of the fans, the atmosphere that they create is just immense.
"It creates an incredible feeling inside and it's great to have that feeling.
"I wish I could do it more often!"