Leeds United: Nobody is bigger than the team, says Heckingbottom after Saiz reaction

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Leeds United boss Paul Heckingbottom revealed that "nobody is bigger than the team" following Samuel Saiz' reaction to being substituted against Barnsley last Saturday.

The 27-year-old left the field in the 84th minute during the 2-1 victory at Elland Road and reacted angrily by kicking a water bottle in frustration at being replaced by the returning Adam Forshaw.

Paul Heckingbottom (right) and Samuel Saiz (left).

Paul Heckingbottom (right) and Samuel Saiz (left).

Saiz has struggled to regain form since picking up a six-game ban for spitting at Newport County's Robbie Willmott during the FA Cup defeat in January and has cut an angry figure in recent months during United's on-field struggles.

Heckingbottom though admitted that Saiz is a player who is "desperate" to win whenever he is on the pitch but conceded he must understand that the team comes first no matter what.

"We obviously don't want that, he knows that," the 40-year-old said of the Spaniard's reaction against Barnsley.

"Nobody is bigger than the team, including me, no players. It's all about the team. No player is better than any other player and no player deserves to be on the pitch over any other player unless they perform.

"That's what we want to try and get across to everyone. It's not about yourself when you're on there, it's not about yourself when you're on the training pitch, it's about doing your role for the team and understanding that you win together and you lose together."

Saiz notched nine goals and five assists in all competitions by Christmas but has had little impact since returning from his imposed layoff providing just two assists since February.

Asked whether Saiz had been angry at his own performance or at being substituted Heckingbottom replied: "Probably a bit of both."

"Samu did some real good things in the game, he knows it was tactical coming off. You've got a team pushing who are playing really direct which was bypassing his role and at that moment in time they didn't really have a shape.

"He wasn't brought off because he was poor or anything like that. He's a player who is desperate to win when he's on the pitch, you can see that. His bravery to get on the ball, we have to channel that and make sure he understands what it takes to win.

"It's not just doing things that you're comfortable with but things that you're uncomfortable with, you have to do things that you don't enjoy doing in order to get better. Otherwise you'll always be the same player or the same person, you'll not improve."

The Leeds boss also revealed that the forward hadn't faced any disciplinary action for the incident following the game.