UNDER-23s COACH Jason Blunt believes young striker Mallik Wilks could “excite” an Elland Road crowd if handed a place in Garry Monk’s first team at Leeds United.
Extra focus has fallen on United’s development squad after the Whites failed to land a new striking option on transfer deadline day.
The club were linked with a loan move for Arsenal’s Yaya Sanogo but the failure to land a new forward has left Whites head coach Monk with just three natural first-team striking options in Chris Wood, Marcus Antonsson and Souleymane Doukara, though Kemar Roofe has also been used upfront.
Clubs are now forbidden from undertaking any regular transfer activity following the closure of FIFA’s summer transfer window last Wednesday evening and the abolishment of the emergency loan window means the only potential new recruits come in the shape of free agents, or through youngsters promoted from club’s academies.
And 17-year-old Wilks took his opportunity to impress when netting the opening goal for United’s under-23s in a 1-1 draw with Crewe Alexandra at Elland Road on Friday evening.
An adventurous young United side also featured Eoghan Stokes and Jack McKay fulfilling striking roles with Frank Mulhern playing in attacking midfield but it was Wilks who left the biggest impression.
Blunt said: “Mallik is a threat in behind, but I continue to say it, he’s very explosive, with lots of talent, but he does need to tidy his game up. There are times when he loses possession.
“But he is young, he is raw and I am sure if he was in front of a full house he would excite people.
“He still has a lot of learn and that is why he is part of that [development] group. Mallik trained with the first team all week last week and the gaffer has been great. Most of them are getting opportunities to be in and around it which is great.
“Mallik is extremely raw but he continues to show he can change games but also he is learning and we have seen improvements in every game.
“He’s got potential but he probably needs a little bit more of his development.
“He definitely wouldn’t be afraid if he maybe gets an opportunity but there’s still a lot of hard work to do and there’s one or two others in there.
“Frankie Mulhern did well again and he is another one that can change games.
“And I think what is pleasing about Mallik, Frank, McKay, is they are different.
“They can change games in a different way and I think sometimes the Elland Road crowd like a bit of something different, especially Mallik who is an inner city boy. I think that’s what they want.”
Leeds sit fourth-bottom in the Championship table with just four points from their first five games and the Whites return to action at Elland Road next Saturday at home to early leaders Huddersfield Town.