Jack Harrison makes international break vow as Leeds United eye second season lift off
Jack Harrison almost bagged his first goal of the new Premier League season in Sunday’s clash at Burnley.
As part of a first half in which his Leeds United side failed to take their chances, the winger’s firm shot from a half-cleared corner was booted off the line.
It means Harrison’s wait for a first goal or assist of the new campaign continues, as does the search for an opening victory for the Whites.
But Harrison says Leeds will now use the international break to their advantage to right the wrongs in a bid to hit lift-off in their second season back in the top flight.
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Harrison helped himself to eight goals and eight assists during the 2020/21 Premier League campaign in which newly-promoted Marcelo Bielsa’s Whites stormed to a ninth-place finish.
Three games into the 2021/22 campaign, United are 15th in a very early table having accrued just the two points so far.
Leeds were always facing a tall order in their first game of the new campaign against Manchester United at Old Trafford but there was no hiding the disappointment of a 5-1 defeat to their arch rivals.
The following weekend’s 2-2 draw at home to an Everton side now managed by Rafa Benitez was a definite step in the right direction, raising hopes that a first victory would be forthcoming against a Burnley side who are fourth favourites for the drop.
Instead, Marcelo Bielsa’s Whites had to settle for a point against a hugely physical Clarets side and ultimately needed an 86th-minute equaliser from Patrick Bamford to salvage a 1-1 draw.
But Harrison is keeping upbeat as Leeds now head into a 13-day international break, after which a home clash against Liverpool is next.
“We are trying to improve each game,” said Harrison.
“It’s difficult playing in games like this [at Burnley].
“But we have got a little break now where we can review that and we have a lot of time to look at ways where we can improve.
“Hopefully, when we come back from internationals we will be raring to go and, hopefully, get our first win.”
One day, Harrison himself hopes he too will be one of those players jetting away on international duty with England.
The 24-year-old has been capped twice by his country’s under-21s and has previously stated how his next natural international aim is to break into the senior squad.
Should he manage it, Leeds might well have three England internationals at the same time considering that Whites striker Patrick Bamford has now joined Kalvin Phillips in Gareth Southgate’s squad.
“It’s fantastic for him, I am really proud of him,” said Harrison of Bamford. “He has worked really hard on and off the pitch, doing extras as well.
“I know he has been pushing for that for quite some time now and I am so happy for him, he deserves it.”
It’s food for thought as to what might one day await Harrison but, for now, the winger is focused on putting right what went wrong at Burnley, both in defence and attack.
Even as a winger, Harrison says he could have done more in the Whites’ box to prevent the Clarets from going ahead as Matthew Lowton’s strike was flicked home by Chris Wood.
Lowton’s shot came in a packed area after Leeds failed to clear a corner and the goal ultimately denied Leeds all three points given that Patrick Bamford struck for United four minutes from time.
“It’s one of those goals where you look back and you can easily avoid it,” said Harrison.
“I know myself that I could have done some things better in that situation but it’s part of the game.
“We had a lot of chances to try and get some back and they had some chances too. A draw is probably about fair but I think we will definitely be analysing it this week and looking at where we can improve.”
Reflecting on seeing his shot cleared off the line at the other end of the pitch, Harrison reasoned: “It was a bit unfortunate but we are just trying to create as many chances as possible.
“Unfortunately, we didn’t manage to get enough but we managed to get a point which is important for us.
“It was a tough game for us right from the start.
“It’s very difficult to play against teams like that, that are really physical and make it hard for you to play.
“But I think we did well to come back from behind a goal and come out with a draw but I think we would have liked three [points].”
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Thank you Laura Collins