Leeds United Tour Diary: Midfielders facing a ‘fierce fight’ for places

Liam Bridcutt. PIC: Bruce Rollinson
Liam Bridcutt. PIC: Bruce Rollinson
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Leeds United captain Liam Bridcutt admitted he was ready for a fierce battle for places at Elland Road after a flurry of midfield arrivals.

Bridcutt expects significantly increased competition at Leeds on the back of a summer recruitment drive which has seen United bring in five midfielders.

Vurnon Anita

Vurnon Anita

Leeds struck deals for wingers Hadi Sacko and Ezgjan Alioski and signed central midfielder Mateusz Klich in a £1.5m transfer from FC Twente last month.

Samuel Saiz and Vurnon Anita have also joined the club, though Anita – released by Newcastle United in May – is expected to be used as a full-back by head coach Thomas Christiansen and played on the right side of defence at North Ferriby United last week.

All five of those players are abroad on Leeds’ pre-season tour of Austria, along with existing squad members Bridcutt, Eunan O’Kane, Kalvin Phillips and Ronaldo Vieira. Youngster Conor Shaughnessy was also included by Christiansen in his tour party.

United’s midfield was seen as an area of weakness last season, a campaign in which the club finished seventh in the Championship having held a play-off position for four months.

Samuel Saiz

Samuel Saiz

Bridcutt told LUTV: “The boys have been looking forward to coming away. We’re here to work and to fight for our places.

“Everyone who comes in, we always make them feel welcome. The key point for this season is that there’s going to be a lot of competition for places. We know that and everyone’s going to fighting, pushing you on to play.”

Christiansen’s players were denied a chance to up the ante yesterday after a planned friendly against German side Ingolstadt in Kufstein was cancelled because of security concerns.

Kufstein’s local council voted by majority to ban its arena from staging ‘risk games’, leaving Leeds without a friendly until Thursday’s meeting with Borussia Monchengladbach in Schwaz.

Bridcutt said: “The manager felt we needed more games and I felt that as well. It’s disappointing to miss out.”