Relations between Leeds United and Sam Byram show signs of thawing with Steve Evans revealing that he received an appreciative call from one of Byram’s representatives after starting the defender at Fulham.
Byram returned to United’s starting line-up after three games on the bench on Wednesday, promoted in the immediate aftermath of Uwe Rosler’s sacking and Evans’ appointment as Leeds’ head coach.
The 22-year-old had been prominent in Rosler’s pre-season plans but lost his way badly in August as doubt about his future at Elland Road grew.
Byram – a former player of the year and a product of Leeds’ academy – is out of contract at the end of this season and turned down the offer of an extended deal after United owner Massimo Cellino asked him to take a cut to his weekly wage. Cellino appears resigned to losing Byram next summer and he criticised the youngster publicly after fresh contract talks failed.
Byram looked increasingly peripheral as Rosler fielded Scott Wootton ahead of him at right-back in his final game in charge but Evans took a concerted decision to involve Byram in a 1-1 draw at Craven Cottage and was repaid with a convincing display.
“These youngsters should be at Leeds for many years,” Evans said. “I’ve not had the chance to talk to Sam but I got the briefest of calls from one of his representatives to acknowledge that I’d put him back in the team.
“I’m just doing my job and going with what I think is the player to play in that position that evening.
“I’m sure that (Byram’s situation) will take care of itself. He has to produce performances like that. If you produce performances then it tells everyone that he should be here.
“He’s a young man with Leeds United through the middle of him. That counts for nothing if you can’t play football but he’s a key part of it. There’ll be games when we think another type of right-back is the answer but he’s a young man I like.”