Uwe Rosler praised an “encouraging debut” from Jordan Botaka at Middlesbrough on Sunday – and said the winger’s unpredictability had influenced his decision to leave out Sam Byram.
Botaka made a 64-minute outing in a 3-0 defeat at The Riverside, his first appearance for Leeds United since joining the club on a two-year deal from Dutch side Excelsior at the start of this month.
The 22-year-old was thrown into the side in place of Byram who dropped to the bench following a difficult week in which he was criticised by Leeds owner Massimo Cellino for refusing to sign a new contract at Elland Road.
Rosler hinted ahead of the game that he might withdraw Byram from the firing line but United’s head coach insisted that Botaka’s inclusion had been a way of limiting the impact of Boro left-back George Friend.
Friend maintained a low profile during much of Sunday’s game, although his first-half cross drew Leeds defender Giuseppe Bellusci into conceding an expensive own goal.
Rosler said: “If Sam would have played, they would have pushed us back. George Friend would have been on the front foot. George Friend stayed back because he didn’t know what Botaka was about.
“Friend, who’s one of the most attacking left-backs in the Championship, didn’t cause us any problems. He stood back because of Botaka.
“I was happy with what we got for his (Botaka’s) first game in English football. It was an encouraging debut. He had his moments and it’s something he can build on.”
Rosler faces another decision this weekend, however, with Will Buckley set to offer another alternative on the right wing.
Buckley is due to join Leeds on a 93-day loan from Sunderland on Friday, in time to make his debut at home to Birmingham City the following afternoon.
The 25-year-old has been training with United for the past week.