Pablo Hernandez has been compensated for his omission from the EFL’s team of the year with one of three places for Leeds United players in the Professional Footballers Association’s Championship line-up.
Hernandez was a surprising absentee from the EFL’s 2018-19 side, which was voted for by managers of the EFL’s 72 clubs, but he made the PFA’s cut alongside United centre-backs Liam Cooper and Pontus Jansson in a side announced this afternoon.
Cooper and Jansson have been Marcelo Bielsa’s regular partnership in the middle of Leeds’ defence and were chosen ahead of their counterparts at Norwich City and Sheffield United, the clubs on the verge of automatic promotion.
Cooper had previously made the EFL’s Championship line-up alongside midfielder Kalvin Phillips but Phillips was missing from the PFA’s pick, overlooked in favour of Hernandez, Sheffield United’s Oliver Norwood and Aston Villa’s Jack Grealish.
The PFA team was selected on the basis of votes cast by Championship players and was revealed with two games of the season to go.
Hernandez has enjoyed his best year at Leeds to date this term, helping to guarantee the club a top-six finish, and 24 of United’s 70 league goals have either been scored or assisted by the Spaniard.
Back-to-back defeats to Wigan Athletic and Brentford over the Easter weekend, however, have seriously damaged Leeds’ prospects of claiming promotion automatically and Hernandez was left in tears at the end of a 2-0 loss at Griffin Park on Monday.
Speaking afterwards, Bielsa said: “Pablo deserved to finish first or second. He and the whole team, but especially him. I understand how he feels.”
The inclusion of three Leeds players is the most in a PFA line-up since 2000. United have never been more heavily represented than 1974 when Paul Madeley, Norman Hunter, Billy Bremner, Allan Clarke and Johnny Giles all featured on the back of the club winning the old first division.
PFA team of the year: Randolph (Middlesbrough), Aarons (Norwich), Cooper (Leeds), Jansson (Leeds), Lewis (Norwich), Hernandez (Leeds), Norwood (Sheffield United), Grealish (Aston Villa), Sharp (Sheffield United), Pukki (Norwich City), Abraham (Aston Villa).