Nineteen-year-old goalkeeper Bailey Peacock-Farrell will be thrown into a full Leeds United debut tomorrow after a red card shown to Marco Silvestri compounded Saturday’s 2-1 defeat at Rotherham United.
Head coach Steve Evans insisted Peacock-Farrell was ready to step up against Queens Park Rangers with Silvestri serving a one-match ban and Leeds devoid of experienced cover. Silvestri was sent off during a chaotic 89th-minute incident on Saturday which saw Rotherham snatch a late victory at the New York Stadium through a Greg Halford penalty.
The keeper paid the price for a trip on Lee Frecklington inside his box, giving Rotherham the chance to claim three points despite playing for almost half-an-hour with 10 men following the earlier dismissal of striker Matt Derbyshire.
Leeds had used all three substitutes at the time of Silvestri’s late red card and were prevented from bringing Peacock-Farrell on from the bench.
Centre-back Giuseppe Bellusci acted as a stand-in keeper but was easily beaten by Halford’s penalty. Evans will now be rushed into blooding Peacock-Farrell at home to QPR tomorrow night, although the United boss said he had intended to stick by an earlier promise to give the teenager his senior debut before the end of the Championship season.
Peacock-Farrell, another product of Leeds’ academy, has been an unused substitute in Leeds’ first-team squad since late November.
He was promoted from the Under-21s after former Middlesbrough and Chelsea keeper Ross Turnbull suffered a broken ankle and USA Under-23 international Charlie Horton agreed to sever his deal with Leeds and return to America for family reasons.
Evans, who has lost around three stone in weight during his five-month reign as head coach, said: “As I sit here now it’s either Bailey or me and I don’t fill the goal as much as I used to!
“He’s a young man who was going to make his debut this season anyway so it comes earlier than planned for us. The supporters will see we’ve got a fine young goalkeeper trying to get in the team.
“He’s ready, he’s a confident young man, his distribution’s good and his handling’s good. He’s got all the attributes. It’s not the circumstances we would like but he would have played between now and the end of the season anyway.”
Silvestri’s red card - the first of his career in England - came two days after Evans was hit by the unexpected loss of striker Souleymane Doukara to an eight-game suspension for biting.
Doukara was handed the lengthy punishment by the Football Association after being found guilty of biting Fulham defender Fernando Amorebieta during a 1-1 draw between Leeds and Fulham at Elland Road on February 23.
Leeds are awaiting a full written verdict from the FA and have refused to comment in detail on the ban or to say what internal punishment, if any, Doukara might face.
The Frenchman denied a charge of violent conduct at a disciplinary hearing last Wednesday.
Doukara began his ban during Saturday’s loss to Rotherham and Evans said the punishment had come as a shock to him
“I certainly didn’t see it coming,” he said, “but I have to let the club get the Football Association’s written reasons and let the president (Massimo Cellino) and the board make a decision as to what they want to do. That’s above me.
“Of course it doesn’t help me as head coach when you lose him for that amount of games. I don’t have to like the decision of the Football Association but now they’ve made it, I’m certainly entitled to respect it.
“Like the club said, it came as a surprise with the length of suspension. I wasn’t aware of anything on the evening from Fulham. I hosted their manager and staff for 40 minutes afterwards and it was never mentioned. I only became aware of it two or three days before the hearing.”