Leeds United head coach Uwe Rosler has insisted again that he will not be rushed into blooding striker Lee Erwin, saying the idea of regular appearances for the Scot is “the wrong expectation”.
Rosler praised Erwin’s “attitude and mentality” and said he was convinced that the forward would make a long-term impact at Elland Road but United’s boss is sticking to a plan to develop Erwin cautiously.
Erwin, who joined Leeds on a three-year contract from Motherwell in June, is a player who Rosler wants to send out on loan, though club owner Massimo Cellino - the driving force behind Erwin’s summer transfer - revealed earlier this week that he was opposed to that option.
The 21-year-old is yet to play for United’s first team and he has failed to make Rosler’s bench since the end of August. Erwin featured in a development-squad game against QPR on Monday and scored twice in a 3-3 draw.
Rosler fielded Erwin regularly in pre-season but has used other players in United’s Championship season including French forward Souleymane Doukara who last scored in November.
The absence of Chris Wood through injury at Middlesbrough last Sunday failed to open the door to Erwin and Will Buckley’s arrival on loan from Sunderland this morning has heightened the competition for places in Rosler’s match-day squads.
Erwin is not expected to feature in the 18-man pool chosen to face Birmingham City tomorrow.
Rosler said: “Lee came to the club in the summer and he started well, also due to the fact that he was physically in better shape than everyone else.
“He had a shorter holiday and he looked after himself. He came well prepared for pre-season training. That put him in a position where he played a lot in pre-season.
“But the way I like to play is with one central striker. At the moment it’s hard for him to get Chris Wood or Mirco Antenucci out of the team. And in general to play that position you need experience and a certain physicality to lead the line on your own.
“Lee came to us from Motherwell where he played one year. He’s still growing and filling out. His game has to be polished in every aspect: technically, hold-up play, movement, game management, physicality. All of this we knew when Lee joined us.
“To expect that Lee will come and play week, in week out was the wrong expectation. I have never given that intention. Mr Cellino has never given that intention.”
Cellino appears reluctant to release Erwin on loan and United’s chairman told the YEP that he wanted the youngster to “stay here, to grow with us, to get better with us.”
Erwin, however, admitted after his two goals at Thorp Arch on Monday that he was keen to break away from development-squad football, saying: “I’d enjoy going out on loan if there’s no chance of me playing first-team football here.
“Once you get a taste of first-team football, like last year, it’s a lot better than under-21 football.”
Rosler, who has given Erwin an individual fitness programme, said: “At some point we have to think ‘is the Under-21s’ playing area good enough for him?’ Or might we have to loan him out when somebody comes and shows us that there’s a plan in place to use him?
“The boy is a credit. He’s realistic and he’s improving. We do a lot of individual work with him. That excites me. With that sort of attitude and mentality he will have a future with Leeds United.”