Leeds United: New man at helm happy to give Elland Road youth a shot at the ‘big time’

Leeds United head coach, Paul Heckingbottom. PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe
Leeds United head coach, Paul Heckingbottom. PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe
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PAUL HECKINGBOTTOM says youngsters will be given every chance as part of his tenure at Leeds United with the head coach committed to improving and promoting precocious talent from within.

Heckingbottom has become head coach at a club with a rich tradition of developing Academy stars at a time when United have recently invested heavily in the club’s development sides.

A raft of players have been brought in to bolster both the club’s under-23s and under-18s and Heckingbottom says he will have no hesitation in promoting youngsters should their talents be deemed strong enough for the first team.

United’s under-23s hit form with a vengeance when hammering Nottingham Forest 5-1 at Thorp Arch on Friday as Oliver Sarkic, Oriol Rey, Adrian Balboa, Paudie O’Connor and Tom Pearce all netted while United’s under-18s are top of their league after continuing their fine season on Sunday when beating Burnley 4-2 with Ryan Edmondson bagging a hat-trick supported by a strike from young Bulgarian ace Kun Temenuzhkov.

“If they are good enough, young players will get a chance,” said Heckingbottom.

“It’s part of a process, and if you have the structure and set-up right – and you can provide opportunity just by organisation – naturally people will get opportunities.

Tom Pearce scored in a 5-1 win for Leeds United Under-23s against Nottingham Forest last Friday. PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe

Tom Pearce scored in a 5-1 win for Leeds United Under-23s against Nottingham Forest last Friday. PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe

“That in itself can breed that determination and drive, because you have no-one at the club sitting around and thinking, ‘I am never going to play here, what am I doing here?’.

“Everyone is turning up to work to get better, to improve. You can build an intensity to how you train and play, and then transfer that to the pitch.

“Yes, people will say ‘Paul developed this player or that player, that comes from this approach’. But it isn’t me being extra special and turning you into a left winger, all of a sudden.

“They have been part of the process, and I am part of that process. It hasn’t been just down to me. It is a process I believe in.”

Leeds United head coach Paul Heckingbottom know the true value of the 'Elland Road faithful'. PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe

Leeds United: Heckingbottom highlights valuable role played by fans