YOUTH will continue to play a key part in Leeds United’s future under head coach Garry Monk who considered giving Mallik Wilks his full debut against Reading this week.
United’s Thorp Arch Academy is continuing to churn out talented youngsters and 17-year-old Chapeltown-raised striker Wilks was handed his first place on the substitute’s bench for Tuesday night’s Championship hosting of Reading.
The teenager was not called into action but Monk has revealed he would have been happy to have given the youngster his debut had the circumstances allowed.
United took a 1-0 lead through Chris Wood in the 19th minute but had to wait until the 91st minute before being absolutely sure of victory when Souleymane Doukara slammed home from the penalty spot.
“It will have been a great experience for him, like all young players,” said Monk of Wilks, speaking ahead of today’s home clash with Brentford.
“Since I have come into the building, I have had young players regularly training with the first team to give them that experience but also to have a good look at them and see how they adapt in a first team environment.
“And then along the way we have brought players to home and away games.
“Mallik got on the bench just to give him that experience and of course he had that and there could also have been an opportunity where he came on. We didn’t feel it was right in that game but his job is to understand that this is the type of environment that you are working towards, to get to.
For all the young players at the club, it’s to continue to work hard and if you do get that opportunity it’s to take it.
“But that hard work is the number one to allow themselves the opportunity to be with the first team.”
Battling for a first team spot will also be the aim of right- back Lewie Coyle when he returns from injury in the new year. The 21-year-old damaged his medial ligament towards the end of October’s EFL Cup tie against Norwich City and was then told to face a six to 12-week lay-off. #
But Monk says the young defender is making excellent progress in his recovery with the Hull-born defender now likely to return to training in the new year.
“He is rehabbing really well,” said Monk of Coyle.
“Coyley is a fantastic professional, he is looking after himself and you can see he has got that determination to get back out on the pitch.
“We are still looking at a good few more weeks but the way that he is recovering I’m sure he won’t be too long.
“Maybe coming out of the Christmas period and into the new year we could see Coyley back out on the pitch.”
Monk will also still be without former Bournemouth player Eunan O’Kane this weekend as the midfielder is still being troubled by a groin problem.
But Pablo Hernandez returned to training on Thursday following his lay-off with a hamstring strain while Kalvin Phillips is available after serving a one-game ban.
Striker Marcus Antonsson has also recovered from a back problem.