HEAD COACH MARCELO BIELSA will need to find the “right moments” to introduce teen forward stars Ryan Edmondson and Jack Clarke to the Leeds United first team, despite injuries to the club’s two main strikers Kemar Roofe and Patrick Bamford.
Bielsa’s unbeaten Championship leaders will take in their seventh league game of a promising campaign at Millwall tomorrow with United missing the services of three key attacking players in Roofe, Bamford and Pablo Hernandez in addition to defender Gaetano Berardi and young midfielder Jamie Shackleton.
Of the club’s striker options, August’s EFL Championship player of the month Roofe is facing between two and three weeks out with a calf problem while £7m summer striker signing Bamford is facing a four-month absence with a posterior cruciate ligament knee injury.
Bielsa has already highlighted 19-year-old Welsh international Tyler Roberts as his “first option” up front minus Bamford and Roofe but Roberts himself has yet to feature in a league game for Leeds and 17-year-olds Edmondson and Clarke have also been excelling for United’s under-23s.
Edmondson was handed his Whites debut as a 74th-minute substitute by former head coach Paul Heckingbottom in last season’s Championship finale at home to QPR and while Clarke has yet to feature in the first team for Leeds, the forward produced two assists and a goal as part of a sparkling display for United’s under-23s against Bristol City last week, the game in which Bamford was injured.
One or both of Edmondson and Clarke seem likely to be on the bench at Millwall but Bielsa is determined to continue an educational and steady approach with the talented teens, even amidst an obvious shortage of striker options.
Asked how close Edmondson and Clarke were to featuring, Bielsa said: “Young players – we value them with their conditions and their skills, then we have to find the right moment to make them play so they can express their skills.
“We have to choose the right time with the young players in the first team. We never have to use young players because we have the obligation to solve a problem.
“So the goal is to use young players in some specific moments so the team can protect them. It will help them – it has to help them to become a more better player. It is why we never talk about solutions for young players. We talk about solutions.”