Leeds United: Hockaday pledges to keep Poleon

Dominic Poleon in action against Millwall. PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe
Dominic Poleon in action against Millwall. PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe
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David Hockaday says he will keep youngster Dominic Poleon at Leeds United this month, despite the striker appearing to suggest that he is ready for a move away from Elland Road.

Poleon used Twitter to vent his frustration on Monday after being limited to a short outing at Millwall last weekend and failing to make the starting line-up for last night’s League Cup tie against Accrington.

The 20-year-old tweeted: “Got to do what’s best for you, change isn’t always bad.”

Hockaday, however, named him on the bench for Leeds’ 2-1 win over Accrington and used Poleon as a substitute for the last 10 minutes.

United’s head coach described him as a “good impact player” and played down the possibility of releasing Poleon before the end of the FIFA transfer window by challenging the forward to earn a starting place this season.

The former Southend United forward is one of a growing number of strikers at Leeds, a group which is set to be strengthened by the arrival of Billy Sharp on a two-year deal from Southampton.

Poleon is already behind Souleymane Doukara, Steve Morison, Noel Hunt, Matt Smith and recent signing Nicky Ajose but asked if he might be made available to other clubs, Hockaday said: “At the moment, he’s a great lad to have on the bench. The challenge for him is to get in the starting XI rather than just the 18.

“Dominic is a great impact player. He comes on and has an effect and I’m happy with that.

“He’s a young boy and he needs to learn the game. He needs to know when to make certain runs, when to hold the ball up and how to manage matches. There’s lots of work to do but he’s a good, honest boy and every time he comes on, he has an impact.

“The challenge for him now is to come on for 10 minutes, 20 minutes, 30 minutes and then eventually work his way up to starting.”

Poleon was brought to Leeds from Southend’s academy in 2010 and turned professional in 2012. All but six of his 33 first-team appearances for United have been made as a substitute.

Morison has missed the first two games of the new season with a calf strain but could be available for Saturday’s game at home to Middlesbrough, further increasing the competition for places in Hockaday’s squad, and Doukara tightened his hold on a starting position with two excellent finishes in the first-round win over Accrington.

The French forward - a summer signing from Catania - endured a quiet competitive debut at Millwall on Saturday but his performance yesterday evening drew praise from Hockaday who said Doukara had struggled to cope with the atmosphere at The Den.

“Souley was one of those who just didn’t perform on Saturday and didn’t do himself justice,” Hockaday said. “He was a rabbit in the headlights and the occasion got the better of him. He played the occasion, not the game.

“But he nailed the basics against Accrington, scored two, could have had a few more. He looked impressive. My definition of potential is that you haven’t done it yet so he’s got a lot of work to do, a lot of growing to do.”

United’s head coach, meanwhile, criticised Gaetano Berardi after the Swiss full-back’s debut for Leeds last night ended in a straight red card.

Berardi was sent off for a late lunge on Accrington midfielder Will Hatfield and will begin an immediate three-match this weekend.

Hockaday said: “I’m disappointed with him and for him. It was reckless.

“He got tired and when he got tired he made a poor decision. He’s been punished for it, quite rightly. That was dangerous play in my opinion. It’s a red card, he has to learn and we move on.”

Jamie Clapham (right) with Leeds United manager Paul Heckingbottom.

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