Ipswich Town winger Ryan Fraser received the Football Leagues’s young player of the month award for August yesterday. If his performance against Leeds United gave a fair impression of his form, the trophy was well deserved.
Fraser caught Uwe Rosler’s eye during Leeds’ 1-0 defeat to Ipswich on Tuesday and between his display and that of Alan Judge for Brentford last Saturday, Rosler saw what United were missing: players able to properly commit defenders and cut open the opposition.
Lewis Cook, United’s 18-year-old midfielder, was the one member of Rosler’s line-up who caused consistent panic but the club’s head coach hopes Jordan Botaka, as an out-and-out winger, can replicate the impact of Fraser and Judge. Botaka was on the bus with Rosler’s squad as they travelled to Milton Keynes yesterday and ever closer to a full Leeds debut.
Rosler has held Botaka back with the 22-year-old’s blessing since United signed him from Excelsior on September 1. Leeds wanted to raise his fitness levels and in the past week Botaka has completed 90 minutes of a development-squad game and three additional fitness sessions on top of regular first-team training.
“You could see in the game on Monday (Leeds’ Under-21 game against Bristol City) that he can offer us something different,” Rosler said.
“He likes to get on the ball but he has to get used to the physicality and the tempo here.
“In Holland you have more time to receive the ball. Here you are closed down much quicker. The tempo of the game in a general is much harder. He has to get used to that but you can see that he is already in training.
“He seldom loses the ball and he has the ability to take people on. That’s exactly what we’re looking for.”
Leeds struggled to cope with the pace of Ipswich and Brentford on the break and Rosler is still to find a settled attacking line having persevered with Sam Byram as a right winger before dropping him on Tuesday.
Stuart Dallas – a £1.3m signing from Brentford last month – has impressed since moving to Elland Road but Rosler said: “On Tuesday we didn’t have enough players who committed the opposition. When you commit defenders it frees up other players.
“What you saw with Brentford with Judge and Ipswich with Fraser, in that game we didn’t have it – apart from Cooky. We need that quality to make sure defenders have to commit.”
Botaka’s appearance in Monday’s development squad fixture effectively ruled him out of the Ipswich clash but he was one of 19 players who went south with Rosler from Elland Road yesterday.
Rosler will decided which one of those players to omit from his 18-man squad at MK Dons this morning but Botaka’s attacking mindset is likely to appeal to him after one win from seven league matches.
Rosler said: “He’s travelling with us and then we make a decision. We’re travelling with 19 players and we’ll make the final call (today). That was always the plan.
“(Botaka) wanted to have a whole week of training to get him up to speed. We gave him 90 minutes in the reserves and he had three physical sessions extra compared to the rest of the players.
“I said at the beginning that I was very impressed with his maturity in terms of knowing what our club is and what our supporters are asking for. To give him the best chance to succeed you need to have him at a certain level.
“I couldn’t judge him 100 per cent to start with because I hadn’t seen enough of him but he reached that decision very much on his own. That shows he’s mature.”