Leeds United's Brighton loanee Ben White on the Premier League, Elland Road nerves and 'unbelievable goalscorer'

Leeds United's Brighton loanee Ben White wasn’t found shouting from the rooftops about his and the Whites’ early season progress.
Ben White and 'unbelievable goalscorer' Patrick Bamford (Pic: Bruce Rollinson)Ben White and 'unbelievable goalscorer' Patrick Bamford (Pic: Bruce Rollinson)
Ben White and 'unbelievable goalscorer' Patrick Bamford (Pic: Bruce Rollinson)

After helping United to a seventh Championship clean sheet of the season in October’s goalless draw at Sheffield Wednesday, the centre-back stayed grounded.

“Obviously I’m doing all right at the moment,” said White at Hillsborough, having received rave reports and plaudits.

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“But when I don’t do so well I’m going to get it then, so I don’t take too much notice of what happens.”

Fourteen games and nearly three months later, White again faced the media following the return fixture against the Owls and in somewhat different circumstances.

Having shut out the opposition in 12 of their first 21 league league games, Saturday’s 2-0 defeat to the Owls made it six games without a clean sheet.

Just as White would not go overboard about progress in the autumn, nor will he panic about a run of one win in six.

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In the 22-year-old, United have a centre-back striving to reach the top by stringing together more clean sheets to send Leeds to the Premier League.

White is already contractually a Premier League footballer, having joined Brighton in 2014.

Loan spells in League Two with Newport County and League One with Peterborough United followed but there appears little doubt that White’s long-term future lies in the country’s top division.

Before joining Leeds on a season-long loan in July, White signed a one-year extension to his contract at Brighton which now runs until summer 2022.

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His eyes are on regular Premier League football. But first and foremost he has a mission to accomplish with Leeds.

“Definitely, that’s what I have come here for,” said White.

“I don’t want to just stay in the Championship, I am looking to play in the Premier League and hopefully we can do it with Leeds.”

Reflecting on his own recent displays as part of United’s previously almost impregnable defence, White said: “We haven’t had as many clean sheets as I would have liked but I’m just doing what I can for the team.

“The FA Cup game against Arsenal showed glimpses of how we play.

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“It showed what we need to achieve and our standards that we need to raise to play every game like that.”

United dazzled in front of 58,403 fans at the Emirates and more than six million BBC One viewers in last week’s FA Cup third-round clash, yet squandered a host of chances in the first half en route to a 1-0 defeat.

The pattern continued in Saturday’s Championship clash against the Owls in which Leeds United again failed to capitalise on any of their many goalscoring opportunities in the first half.

United, again, were ultimately left with nothing as Garry Monk’s Owls struck twice in the closing stages for a 2-0 victory.

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The defeat saw Leeds fall to second in the table and the cushion between them and the automatic promotion places is now down to six points, having once stood at 12.

With last season’s agonising late fall from second to third in mind, nerves were tangible inside Elland Road as Leeds struggled to break Wednesday down.

But White was focused only on developments on the pitch.

Asked if he could sense the nerves in the stands, White said: “Not really no. I am focusing on what I am doing in the game and it’s not really something that impacts me.

“I don’t really take any notice of anything like that when I am playing.”

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United’s problems against the Owls were at both ends of the pitch; several spells of attractive football counted for nothing as Wednesday netted their only two shots on target.

White insists it would be unfair to blame United’s latest defeat on a lack of firepower.

He has complete confidence in a front line led by Patrick Bamford – even without Eddie Nketiah, his fellow loanee who was recalled by Arsenal at the start of the transfer window and with no replacement found just yet.

White said: “I don’t think Eddie would have come on in the first half so I don’t think that’s really the difference.

“We didn’t have many chances in the second half.

“If the chances are there, I’m sure Pat would have put them away.

“Patrick is an unbelievable goalscorer so there’s no worry there.”