Caleb Ekuban vowed to find his finishing touch before the end of a difficult season after admitting that injuries had “killed” his first year at Leeds United.
The Ghanaian striker is waiting to claim his first league goal for Leeds nine months on from his move to Elland Road having lost more than half of the term to serious foot injuries. Ekuban underwent surgery on a fractured metatarsal suffered on his Championship debut away at Sunderland in August, and returned for just five games before fracturing a bone in the same foot during a 3-1 win at Queens Park Rangers in December.
His fitness problems have limited him to six league starts and 13 appearances in all and his only competitive strike came in a Carabao Cup win over Port Vale during the opening week of the season.
Ekuban, who Leeds paid £500,000 to sign from Chievo, was scouted by United on the strength of his return of 17 goals during a loan at Albanian side Partizani Tirana last term.
The forward said: “It’s been tough but it’s all about learning and growing up. I had a couple of injuries that, let’s say, killed the season for me personally, but now I’m back and I’m trying to find my rhythm. I’ve had quite a lot of opportunities to play and I just hope to get the momentum going.
“The more you play as a striker the more you feel confidence. That’s what I’m searching for and, hopefully, I can score one or two goals and have more confidence in myself.
“I just need to read situations better and have the chance to score.”
Ekuban came within inches of finding the net at Reading last Saturday when a deflected shot flew past a post but a tally of 10 efforts on goal all season has reflected his limited role.
“You think about it but at the same time you don’t think,” he told LUTV ahead of this weekend’s derby against Sheffield Wednesday. “You just go out there and try to do your best. If the goal comes it’s something more.”
Meanwhile, 20-year-old goalkeeper Bailey Peacock-Farrell has been rewarded for his recent first-team appearances with a place in Northern Ireland’s Under-21 squad for European qualifiers against Spain and Iceland.
Darlington-born Peacock-Farrell, who qualifies for Northern Ireland through his grandparents, was promoted to United’s starting line-up in place of a struggling Felix Wiedwald last week and impressed in games against Wolverhampton Wanderers and Reading.
He will join up with Northern Ireland’s Under-21s after Saturday’s clash with Sheffield Wednesday. Ian Baraclough’s side play Spain in Portadown next Thursday and Iceland in Coleraine a week on Monday.