Leeds United: Recalled Botaka is forced out by illness

Jordan Botaka.
Jordan Botaka.
0
Have your say

The Congolese winger was set to play at the Macron Stadium having caught the eye of new head coach Steve Evans in training on Friday but he was ruled out by United’s medical staff a few hours before kick-off

Botaka travelled to the team hotel but Evans said he had been “up all night” ahead of a 1-1 draw between United and Bolton.

Evans stuck instead with the same line-up which drew at Fulham on Wednesday, fielding Lewis Cook on the left wing and using Luke Murphy in the centre of midfield.

Murphy was substituted at the interval, however, and replaced by Alex Mowatt following a first half in which Evans turned to a diamond midfield to counter the approach of the Championship’s bottom club.

Botaka is aiming to recover in time for Thursday night’s game at home to Blackburn Rovers, Evans’ third match in charge.

“He would have started,” the United boss said. “He was ill.

“He trained exceptionally well and we thought he would have given Bolton a real problem but I got up to the medical staff telling me the kid’s been up all night.

“We had to get him away from the group as quickly as we could and send him off home in a taxi to get into his bed. It’s a shame because I felt he could have made an impact.”

United’s draw extended their run without a win to five matches, with Evans left to rue two strikes from Tom Adeyemi which came back of a post in either half.

A goal from Bolton debutant Shola Ameobi opened the scoring on 32 minutes but Mowatt’s introduction allowed Leeds to dominate the second half and United equalised through a Mirco Antenucci penalty 19 minutes from time.

Bolton defender Prince was sent off after conceding it with a professional foul on Antenucci.

Evans sent on loanee Will Buckley in the final quarter-of-an-hour with the intention of forcing a winning goal but Buckley, who moved to Leeds from Sunderland on a 93-day deal this month, endured another unproductive outing.

“We all know Will was an exceptional player before his injuries and he’s come here to get some game time but he has to justify it,” Evans said.

“He gave us a spark in terms of getting to the byline but was his quality good when he got there? There’s a little indication of him not playing football. With some game time under his belt he probably picks people out there.”

Evans, however, gave a glowing appraisal of stand-in left-back Gaetano Berardi – despite admitting that he had doubts about the Switzerland international’s ability when he took over as head coach last week.

“I said to him that before I came here I didn’t think much about him,” Evans said. “I was honest with him but he was outstanding. It’s no surprise that the boy has played for his country.”

The Congolese winger was set to play at the Macron Stadium having caught the eye of new head coach Steve Evans in training on Friday but he was ruled out by United’s medical staff a few hours before kick-off

Botaka travelled to the team hotel but Evans said he had been “up all night” ahead of a 1-1 draw between United and Bolton.

Evans stuck instead with the same line-up which drew at Fulham on Wednesday, fielding Lewis Cook on the left wing and using Luke Murphy in the centre of midfield.

Murphy was substituted at the interval, however, and replaced by Alex Mowatt following a first half in which Evans turned to a diamond midfield to counter the approach of the Championship’s bottom club.

Botaka is aiming to recover in time for Thursday night’s game at home to Blackburn Rovers, Evans’ third match in charge.

“He would have started,” the United boss said. “He was ill.

“He trained exceptionally well and we thought he would have given Bolton a real problem but I got up to the medical staff telling me the kid’s been up all night.

“We had to get him away from the group as quickly as we could and send him off home in a taxi to get into his bed. It’s a shame because I felt he could have made an impact.”

United’s draw extended their run without a win to five matches, with Evans left to rue two strikes from Tom Adeyemi which came back of a post in either half.

A goal from Bolton debutant Shola Ameobi opened the scoring on 32 minutes but Mowatt’s introduction allowed Leeds to dominate the second half and United equalised through a Mirco Antenucci penalty 19 minutes from time.

Bolton defender Prince was sent off after conceding it with a professional foul on Antenucci.

Evans sent on loanee Will Buckley in the final quarter-of-an-hour with the intention of forcing a winning goal but Buckley, who moved to Leeds from Sunderland on a 93-day deal this month, endured another unproductive outing.

“We all know Will was an exceptional player before his injuries and he’s come here to get some game time but he has to justify it,” Evans said.

“He gave us a spark in terms of getting to the byline but was his quality good when he got there? There’s a little indication of him not playing football. With some game time under his belt he probably picks people out there.”

Evans, however, gave a glowing appraisal of stand-in left-back Gaetano Berardi – despite admitting that he had doubts about the Switzerland international’s ability when he took over as head coach last week.

“I said to him that before I came here I didn’t think much about him,” Evans said. “I was honest with him but he was outstanding. It’s no surprise that the boy has played for his country.”

Kemar Roofe celebrates his hat-trick with Pawel Cibicki.

Leeds United Jury: Roofe and Cibicki take centre-stage as Whites close in on play-off spots