Leeds United: Ideguchi must prove himself, reveals boss Heckingbottom

Paul Heckingbottom says Yosuke Ideguchi must up his game to ensure a spot at this summer's World Cup with Japan.
Paul Heckingbottom says Yosuke Ideguchi must up his game to ensure a spot at this summer's World Cup with Japan.
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Leeds United manager Paul Heckingbottom believes it is up to Yosuke Ideguchi to prove himself at Cultural Leonesa with the Japanese international's World Cup place on the line.

The 21-year-old midfielder has struggled for game time since he made the move to Spain in January featuring just a handful of times and notching only 109 minutes of action.

Yosuke Ideguchi in action for Japan last year.

Yosuke Ideguchi in action for Japan last year.

Japan manager Vahid Halilhodzic's has omitted Ideguchi from his latest squad for their friendlies against Mali and Ukraine later this month and cited the lack of first team action as a major factor in his decision making.

"They are now in a difficult situation," Halilhodzic told the Japan Times.

"They haven’t been chosen this time, and if things continue the way they are, there is a chance that they won’t be chosen for the World Cup.”

After acquiring Ideguchi two months ago, United decided to send the youngster to the Spanish second division in the hope he would acclimatise to his new European surrondings and find the game time required to secure his spot on the plane to Russia.

But, after moving from J League's Gamba Osaka, it now appears that Ideguchi is on the outside looking in for this summer's Japanese World Cup squad and Whites boss Heckingbottom has issued somewhat of a rallying cry to the youngster.

"That's down to the manager and the player," revealed Heckingbottom.

"The player has to perform well enough to get picked, it doesn't matter where you are or what club you're at, that has to be the case. It's just the same as I'd say to any player who was here daily, it's down to yourself.

"You can force a manager to pick you through performance, through understanding and getting a clear idea of what the manager wants from you and going out and delivering.

"We've sent a player there and does he need game time? Yes, but it's down to him.

"If that impacts on his international career then so be it but it's no different to any other player. We could have one of our players who're going away next week and if they weren't performing well enough for us then their international place would be in doubt.

"From our point of view of course we want him to play and we want the move to work so he's got more game time in Europe. He's due to come back to us in the summer and we'd like him to get as much exposure as possible at that level."

The Leeds manager did also concede that he wasn't totally sure as to why Ideguchi hadn't found playing time easy to come by but reiterated that if he wanted to feature for Japan this summer the time was now for him to knuckle down and get to work.

"We don't know the reasons," admitted Heckingbottom.

"At some clubs there's stipulations where you can, not force a club to play them, but heavily weight it in your favour.

"There's plus' and minus' for that. My experience is if there was any such agreement with our player and that was in place, what are they really learning? Because they know they're going to be getting away with all the bad habits.

"From my point of view I'd rather players knuckle down and give everything to get back in the team. Then you can learn a lot more about them."