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Leeds United transfer news: Leeds ‘ready to battle’ West Ham and Liverpool for winger, Whites reportedly prepare £20m bid

Marcelo Bielsa says Archie Gray’s inclusion in Premier League squads has been ‘premature’ but believes the 15-year-old will become an elite player.

Friday, 21st January 2022, 9:35 am

The youngster, whose great uncle Eddie, grandfather Frank and father Andy form Elland Road’s Gray dynasty, was among Bielsa’s substitutes for the games against Arsenal and West Ham United.

But according to the Whites head coach that was not an ideal situation. Leeds have suffered extensively with injuries this season, missing several senior players at once. The latest spate has robbed Bielsa of Kalvin Phillips, Jamie Shackleton, Liam Cooper, Patrick Bamford, Adam Forshaw, Sam Greenwood and Junior Firpo ahead of a crucial game against relegation-threatened Newcastle United.

Against that backdrop, Gray has found himself part of the first team group with his 16th birthday still almost two months away.

“What has happened to him has been premature,” said Bielsa.

“I don’t think it’s good for a player of his age to occupy the space that he has, and have these opportunities. If I could have avoided it, I would have done it. The players, we have to put them in positions where they can assume the problems or possibilities that arise, and obviously Gray is not prepared to compete in the Premier League. “

Whilst Gray should not have had to take a place on the bench, his place was earned by merit, in the circumstances. The midfielder has impressed having been promoted to Mark Jackson’s Under 23s, making eight appearances in Premier League 2 action and holding his own against vastly experienced operators like Lewis Baker. He was the best option for that spot on the team sheet.

“The reality took him to be there deservedly,” said Bielsa.

“Every time I form a group for the squad, I always pick the best of those available.”

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