Loan boss quashes Leeds United youngster attitude suggestion as Farke rules out senior involvement

Daniel Farke has made it clear that there is currently no place for Sonny Perkins in Leeds United's senior set-up.
LOAN CURTAILED - Leeds United have recalled Sonny Perkins from Oxford United but he will not be linking up with the first team right now according to boss Daniel Farke. Pic: Gareth Copley/Getty ImagesLOAN CURTAILED - Leeds United have recalled Sonny Perkins from Oxford United but he will not be linking up with the first team right now according to boss Daniel Farke. Pic: Gareth Copley/Getty Images
LOAN CURTAILED - Leeds United have recalled Sonny Perkins from Oxford United but he will not be linking up with the first team right now according to boss Daniel Farke. Pic: Gareth Copley/Getty Images

Leeds have opted to bring Perkins back early from his season-long loan at League One side Oxford United, where he struggled to shine or even feature at all. Perkins returned to Thorp Arch with a grand total of four league minutes to his name and a pair of EFL Trophy starts. It was in the trophy that he registered the only goal of his loan spell, but it failed to lead to more opportunities and when Perkins was not included in eight league matchday squads in succession Leeds pulled the plug on the loan.

Prior to joining Oxford United Perkins did feature briefly for Leeds as a late substitute in the Championship opener against Cardiff City, a fact that means he cannot go on loan again this season or play for a third club, but Farke did not hand any more gametime to the youngster. The German, when quizzed over Perkins' whereabouts after the defeat at Birmingham City, spoke of the need for players to impress him in training.

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Oxford United head coach Des Buckingham has insisted that attitude and training application were not Perkins' issue during his time in charge of the U's. Buckingham, who was appointed in November to replace the departed Liam Manning, said: "He’s trained extremely well and been very good around the group, I think that’s important to stress. But when you’ve got Mark Harris and Gats [Gatlin O’Donkor] in the building, it’s been very difficult for him to get game time, and I spoke with him about that. It’s important for his development that he gets games. It’s a timing thing for me. I can’t speak for what was before, but it wasn’t the right thing to do, to throw him and have a look at whether he can or he can’t. I haven’t had a pre-season with him or the time to work with him and see him, so it’s more a timing thing and it’s better for his development to go back and get games, whether that’s at Leeds or somewhere else. It allows us another loan move to go and look at a player where we may need somewhere else.”

Perkins, though, can now only hope for games at Under 21 level because Farke has no intention of adding the striker to his first team group at this stage. The Leeds boss did not go into the reasons for Perkins' failure to shine at Oxford United, but explained why the loan was put in place initially. "I was too far away and had to concentrate on the lads here, so it is difficult to give a reason [why it didn't work out]," said Farke. "It’s also difficult to say what will happen right now, at the moment he’s not part of my plans, I spoke about the culture, he was with us in pre-season and got the chance to impress during training and in the few games in pre-season and first competitive games. We then decided it’s a bit too soon for him to be involved because he didn’t shine in this period. We then had the option to loan him out and it’s fair to say, if we judge it, he was not able to get game time on League One level and sometimes struggling to make the gameday squad."

Patrick Bamford’s return to goalscoring form, Georginio Rutter’s creativity and Joel Piroe’s nine goals make the road to the Championship look difficult for Perkins, at best, even without Farke’s take on the situation. Mateo Joseph is also part of the Leeds forward unit and has been getting minutes here and there in the form of substitute cameos in the league and cup competitions. Farke believes involvement at senior level would send the wrong message to not only Perkins but others around the Leeds squad right now. He said: "It’s not the solution that he comes back and shines for Leeds United on Championship level when we have even higher demands. It doesn’t work in this way and is the totally wrong sign. He’s together with our Under-21s and he has to train and to develop, work on the things he has to improve and yes, he has lots of potential and if he can work consistently he has chances to shine. But, it’s not like after a loan doesn’t work out and you get no game time, you are credited with a position in the first team, it would send totally the wrong sign in terms of the culture we want to create."

Perkins will get the support he needs, according to the manager, but the onus is very much on the man Leeds took from West Ham United in July 2022. Farke said: "We can just back players and trust them and develop them, but we can just bring them close to the door, they have to make the step through the door. This is what we will do, we will work on Under 21 level with Sonny, give him all the support and trust, work with him to improve and the challenges he has in his game. If he improves he has the chance step-by-step to be on a higher level, at the moment it is to stay humble and work hard, because if you’re not capable to get any minutes on League One level then it is difficult to shine for us on the level we are."

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Other youngsters at Thorp Arch who might decide to seek loan moves for the second half of this season include Lewis Bate and Darko Gyabi. The midfield pair have not come close to the first team and are not currently in Farke’s plans, so have had to settle for Under 21 football thus far. Sean McGurk is another whose time might be better spent in senior football away from Leeds but it is thought his injury status is currently delaying any progress on a January switch.