Garry Monk believes Mallik Wilks has the potential to carve out a career at Leeds after the 17-year-old striker made his first appearance on the bench during Tuesday’s clash with Reading.
Wilks, from Chapeltown, was called up from United’s Under-23 squad following a spate of injuries including one which accounted for Swedish forward Marcus Antonsson. Monk was forced to omit Antonsson after he complained of back spasms in training, adding him to a roll of absentees already featuring Eunan O’Kane, Kalvin Phillips and Pablo Hernandez.
Wilks is a second-year scholar at Thorp Arch and has been a regular for the club’s Under-23s this season, scoring in league games against Coventry City and Crewe Alexandra. His pace and his finishing has marked him out as a promising prospect and Monk revealed that the teenager had been working with the first team in the run-up to his appearance in Tuesday’s squad.
“It was more out of necessity than anything else,” Monk said. “Marcus picked up a back injury in training a couple of days ago, nothing too serious and just a spasm but he wasn’t available.
“We’re down to the bare bones but Mallik’s been training with us regularly and he’s got a future if he wants it and does the right things.”
Monk has shown a willingness to rely on Leeds’ academy products this season, using Phillips and Ronaldo Vieira regularly in midfield and blooding left-back Tyler Denton in a League Cup tie at Luton Town in August.
Eighteen-year-old Vieira shone again in United’s 2-0 victory over Reading, the only recognised central midfielder in their starting line-up, and Monk said: “He’s so mature for his age. You saw it from the first minute to the 91st minute. He was brushing someone aside in the 91st minute and he’s developing nicely.
“He’s listening. He’s got ability and he knows that but he’s critical of himself.
“Because he listens he’s growing all the time. I took a good look at the group when I came in, the Under-23s and the 18s. I felt we could do something with him and we can all see the potential he has. It’s just about bringing it out of him.”