Leeds United: Bamba ready to step up to captaincy if required

Sol Bamba in training at Leeds United.
Sol Bamba in training at Leeds United.
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Sol Bamba says he will be ready to step up and take the captaincy at Leeds United next season if head coach Uwe Rosler gives the armband to him.

Bamba admitted that he would be happy to lead United’s squad after earning praise from Rosler for setting the example during Friday night’s friendly against Harrogate Town.

Rosler described Bamba’s 45-minute performance in a 1-1 draw at Wetherby Road as “fantastic”, crediting him for “setting the tone” after an unconvincing first half.

Leeds trailed at the break having struggled to adapt to Rosler’s 3-5-2 formation but a change of system and personnel at the start of the second half saw Steve Morison produce an immediate equaliser.

Rosler singled out Bamba afterwards, saying: “That’s how I wish to see my defenders competing.”

Bamba returned to Leeds on a two-year deal from Palermo a month ago, completing a permanent transfer after a successful loan at Elland Road last season. The 30-year-old – an Ivory Coast international – was one of several players who captained United in a campaign when the armband changed hands repeatedly and he already looks like a leading candidate for the responsibility next season.

Bamba said: “I’m not going to say that I want it but if I got it then I’d be happy.

“It would be a huge thing for me to be captain of a big club and it would be an honour and a privilege. But I’m not asking for it. If the gaffer thinks I deserve it then I’ll take it with pleasure. If it’s anyone else I’ll just do my job.”

Bamba refused to place great significance on the result at Wetherby Road, against side who will compete in Conference North next term.

The match was Leeds’ first friendly of the summer and Bamba said: “It can be difficult. You saw that with the result.

“The positive thing is getting ready and getting your fitness back.

“We know what has to be done so we’re happy. There’s still hard work to be done.

“In the first half it was 3-5-2 and in the second it was 4-3-3. We need to get used to that.”

Friday’s match was marred slightly by verbal exchanges between defender Giuseppe Bellusci and Leeds supporters who attended the friendly.

Bellusci – one of six foreign players who were controversially declared injured 24 hours before a game at Charlton Athletic in April – was booed by sections of the crowd during his appearance in the first half.

The centre-back, who cost £1.6m from Catania last August, has three years left on his contract and is expected to be heavily involved in Leeds’ forthcoming campaign.

Writing on Twitter on Saturday, Bellusci said: “For those who did not understand. I said: ‘(You) don’t like me ok. But the first game you should support the team, not me.”