Carlos Corberan said his Under-23 squad had taken another step towards first-team involvement at Leeds United after reaching the final of the Professional Development League play-offs.
The club’s youngsters made it through a dramatic semi-final at Elland Road last night with a 3-2 win over Coventry City in extra-time, keeping their impressive season alive.
United topped the northern section of PDL 2 and turned in a comprehensive display against Coventry, despite being forced into an additional half-hour by a 92nd-minute equaliser.
A blistering finish from Kun Temenuzhkov sealed victory in front of a large crowd and United will now meet Ipswich Town or Birmingham City, who meet in Suffolk this evening. A date and venue for the final is still to be announced.
Eight of Leeds’ development squad players have made senior debuts under Marcelo Bielsa this season and Polish midfielder Mateusz Bogusz, who featured in the win over Coventry, was on the bench for Leeds’ Championship clash with Aston Villa on Sunday.
Corbern told LUTV: “It’s brilliant because the consequence of winning games is to have this experience with our fans. It’s a closer step to first-team involvement and we hope in the final we’ll continue with the same support, creating the atmosphere for our players.
“One day they’ll arrive in the first team and have the same atmosphere so it’s important to create similar experiences. The final is one experience more and a positive thing.”
Leeds were 2-1 up heading into injury-time, aided by a 19th goal of the season from Ryan Edmondson, but conceded at the death.
Bulgarian Kun - signed by Leeds from Barcelona’s academy in 2017 - stepped off the bench to win the semi-final with an effort from 20 yards.
The forward made his first-team debut for Leeds in their FA Cup defeat to Queens Park Rangers in January.
“The players who come from the bench have to go into the team with the right mentality, to continue helping the team with the things they’re doing well,” Corberan said. “The impact of Kun in this situation was positive.”