Patrick Bamford on crucial reasons for Arsenal striker Eddie Nketiah staying put with Leeds United
PATRICK BAMFORD believes it is crucial that Arsenal loanee striker Eddie Nketiah stays with Leeds United for the duration of the Championship campaign.
United beat off competition from a host of clubs to land England under-21s striker Nketiah on a season-long loan in August but the 20-year-old is still awaiting his first Whites league start.
Nketiah was set to finally make his full Whites Championship debut in November’s clash at home to Queens Park Rangers but the young Gunner then picked up a lower abdominal injury in training the day before.
The problem ruled Nketiah out for a month and Bamford has been in a rich vein of form in the lone striker role of late with the forward netting four goals in his last eight games.
With Nketiah continually having to make to do with second-half outings from the bench, Whites head coach Marcelo Bielsa has already fielded questions about the possibility of Arsenal recalling the forward come the opening of the January transfer window and potentially loaned elsewhere.
Bielsa said he was in no position to answer and that only Nketiah and Arsenal would know what the immediate future held but United’s head coach admitted he hoped the striker would stay, not just for the rest of the season but in an ideal world also next term too.
And despite being in competition with the young forward for the lone striker, the feeling is shared by Bamford who insists that even with Tyler Roberts set to return from a hamstring injury, United would need several different options upfront and particularly over Christmas and new year.
Asked how important was that Nketiah stayed put at Leeds, Bamford said: “I think it is crucial as the Championship is a really demanding league.
“There are going to be times where there are three games in a week and it is going to be tough and you are going to need those other options to bring on and sometimes, games might demand different things.
“It is important to have options and we have Tyler who has been injured as well and he has got to come back.
“We have not had a full squad for a long sustained period and it is going to be good when it is firing.”
Nketiah has again had to settle for three second-half outings from the bench following his return from injury with the striker brought on for Bamford with 13 minutes left of Saturday’s hosting of Cardiff City.
Bamford - who had scored a brace - left the field with Leeds 3-1 up but Cardiff netted twice to draw level at 3-3 and Nketiah then saw his close-range header saved in the fifth minute of added time.
Bamford, though, says it is not the presence of Nketiah that keeps him on his toes and instead the lure of helping Leeds United to the Premier League.
Despite seeing a run of seven consecutive league wins ended through Saturday’s draw, second-placed Leeds have a ten-point cushion in the Championship’s automatic promotion spots.
“To be honest, I know that even if Eddie was not here, I know that I can’t lay off it if I want to get promoted,” said Bamford, who is now on nine goals for the season.
“The boys want to get promoted and that is the aim of this year and I feel if I took my foot on the pedal, I would not be giving my all to get promoted.
“For me, whether Eddie is here or not, I have got to give 110 per cent.”