Leeds United boss Paul Heckingbottom sends 'right message' over goalkeeper switch

Bailey Peacock-Farrell was recalled to the Leeds United line-up for the first time since 2016.
Bailey Peacock-Farrell was recalled to the Leeds United line-up for the first time since 2016.
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Leeds United manager Paul Heckingbottom felt a goalkeeping change ahead of Wednesday's 3-0 defeat to Wolves would send the 'right message' to Felix Wiedwald and the rest of his Whites squad.

Youngster Bailey Peacock-Farrell, who was recalled to the Whites starting eleven for the first time since 2016, replaced Wiedwald between the sticks as the German dropped to the bench.

Barring a brief spell in early October in which former United boss Thomas Christiansen dropped the 27-year-old in favour of back up Andy Lonergan, Wiedwald had nailed down the number one spot for much of the campaign.

Heckingbottom, though, decided it was time for a change after criticism intensified once more following the German's display during the 3-0 defeat to Middlesbrough at the Riverside last Friday.

The Leeds boss revealed, however, that he believed it was the right decision for the good of the team and also to make a statement about the standards he sets for his squad.

“You have to send the right message if things aren't happening,” Heckingbottom said following the defeat.

“We'll be working our socks off with Felix to make those adjustments and improvements because, as with any player out of the team, if you can improve those and get them beyond the players in the team then you've improved your team straight away.

“I just felt that I needed to make the change to make the team stronger. He [Wiedwald] was obviously disappointed. I told him yesterday [Tuesday] morning, I think it's important I speak to the players before I do it and tell them why.

“He's got to fight his way back in. Work hard in training, perform well, raise standards and fight for the shirt."

After a loan spell at York City earlier in the season, in which Peacock-Farrell's struggles were well documented, it was a big decision to throw the 21-year-old into the action against the Championship leaders.

His selection, though, after a string of strong saves during the opening half looked to be a stroke of genius from the Leeds boss.

“He was one of the positives,” added Heckingbottom.

“Thrown in at the deep end against top of the league, first league start against a team who you know is going to keep him busy and create opportunities against him.

“He can be pleased with himself. With Lonners unavailable there would've been a natural second choice as it's been him and Felix throughout the season, but I thought the time was right to make a change there.

Asked if Peacock-Farrell would keep his spot for the weekend trip to the Madejski Stadium the Whites boss remained coy.

“We'll have to see,” revealed Heckingbottom.

“If I'm being overcritical I'd probably look back at the third goal but it should've been dealt with before it got to that point.

“But prior to that he made some good saves and his distribution was OK as well which is another part of the game that's important."

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