Leeds United winger injury issues could be chance for Ian Poveda to prove point to Marcelo Bielsa

Come in Ian Poveda, your time is now. Maybe.

By Graham Smyth
Friday, 7th May 2021, 4:45 am

With the sad news that Helder Costa's back injury, that one he sustained after that suplex Aaron Wan-Bissaka delivered at Elland Road, is season-ending and with Raphinha still a doubt for the Spurs game, it would nice to get a proper glimpse at what Ian Poveda can do.

There have been glimpses, flashes and hints of an abundance of skill and plenty of pace. We saw it at Brighton, when he went past players as if they weren't there, trailing legs no match for his agility and speed. What has been lacking has been end product, although at times he has been unfortunate in that regard. Tyler Roberts should have scored from the little winger's clever pass against Liverpool and Patrick Bamford headed against the post from a Poveda cross earlier in the season.

Tottenham Hotspur don't present the easiest of opportunities for any attacker at Leeds but there aren't any easy games in the Premier League and sooner or later Poveda is going to have to prove he's much more than a tricky dribbler.

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He's fun to watch though, so it's natural to want to see him in action more than we have. When you think back to the torrid time he gave Benjamin Mendy, you can't help but yearn for a similar display.

Wingers create a buzz. Raphinha has done it with consistency this season and the difference between him and Poveda, at present, is that the Brazilian looks like he's going to create each and every time he gets on the ball. He has the look of a player who knows exactly what he's going to do when he picks up the ball and, with regularity, he manages to do it. Poveda isn't quite there yet, not for the senior side. The jinking runs need to end in cut backs and crosses that beg to be stroked home. They need to end in shots that beat goalkeepers. The runs he went on against Brighton amounted to little, giving the appearance of a player who knew what his next move was but not the one after that.

He's just 21, remember, so he's got plenty of time and he's got a boss with plenty of patience. "He has dribbling skills which are difficult to decipher but like I was saying about Tyler he needs to create these attempts into something that impacts the game," said Bielsa recently.

"But you have to be able to play to show conclusions and he has had very few minutes, not because he doesn't deserve them. But because I have taken decisions to position him behind Raphinha, Harrison and Costa but in some ways he deserves more minutes due to the qualities that he has."

TRICKY WINGER - Youngster Ian Poveda has showcased his speed and dribbling ability without providing the end product Marcelo Bielsa wants for Leeds United. Pic: Getty

Ahead of another summer of strengthening, however, you never know when those opportunities, no matter how brief or how few they have been, are going to slow or even stop. If he's handed one this weekend, and let's hope that he is for entertainment's sake, he's got to grab it and show he's got goals and assists in him.

Crysencio Summerville is hot on his heels, scoring goals and making defenders look silly in the Under 23s. The time to show Bielsa who lies where in the pecking order is now.