'Phenomenal' - David Prutton salutes 'dogged determination' of Leeds United star in highlighting stand-out players of past year
SKY Sports presenter David Prutton has hailed the progress of Leeds United no 9 Patrick Bamford in now rubbing shoulders with the Premier League's elite strikers.
Bamford had 27 Premier League outings over four different clubs in Crystal Palace, Burnley, Norwich City and Middlesbrough during the 2015-16 and 2016-17 campaigns, scoring once for the latter.
The striker was only handed four starts and then moved to Leeds with Bamford netting nine goals in the 2018-19 Championship season which was disrupted by injury and then bagging 16 the following season as United were promoted as Championship champions.
Now back experiencing another attempt at the country's top flight, Bamford sits joint-sixth in the Premier League Golden Boot race having netted ten goals - the same number as Tottenham Hotspur's England captain Harry Kane.
Liverpool striker Mo Salah leads the way with 12, one ahead of Tottenham star Son Heung-min.
Manchester United's Bruno Fernandez, Leicester City's Jamie Vardy and Everton's Dominic Calvert-Lewin then all have 11 apiece.
Prutton knows Bamford has one of the lowest conversion rates but says the striker's all round game and overall progress deserves much celebration and respect 17 games into the new campaign.
Reflecting on his stand out players for Leeds of the last year, Prutton told the YEP: "The great thing about discussing something like that is that several names jump up.
"You can look at what Leeds have got out of maybe an unsung hero in Mateusz Klich which has been wonderful.
"You have also got Pablo Hernandez's magic, the versatility of someone like Stuart Dallas and Liam Cooper is also the man who captained the side back to the Premier League.
"Then we have seen the evolution of Kalvin Philips and I have spoken to Garry Monk and Andy Hughes recently and there is a real sense of pride about what he has done.
"I am not saying Garry made him this and that but he saw him for a portion of his journey and now he looks at what he has become.
"Klich has been a player who has been the very epitome of what Marcelo has done with Leeds United in making him better.
"It's the same with Luke Ayling and Jack Harrison who is now more effective on a football pitch.
"And then Patrick Bamford stands out because there is a player in there, a goalscorer and a finisher but the consistency and output is no doubt something that he has always been made aware of whether it be from fans or the media or anything like that.
"But even though he has had all that focus on him he has just quietly gone about his job without really sticking his head above the parapet.
"Leading Leeds United and being the striker for Leeds United infinitely gives you a target on your back.
"The hopes and dreams of football fans are hung on a striker.
"It's that classic one of nobody grows up wanting to be a full back, everybody grows up wanting to be a centre-forward.
"And I think for sheer dogged determination and for sheer perseverance and having the belief of a manager such as Marcelo behind him, he has shown what he is capable of in the Premier League and I think that is to be respected and lauded.
"Hopefully what we have seen from him in the majority of time in the Premier League is still there when fans come back and they can cheer on a player that scores goals in the Premier League with no question marks about it.
"We did a piece before the game on Sky before the Burnley game about Patrick's effectiveness in terms of taking chances which was 33 per cent.
"But the list of players he was up against was Aguero, Kane and Salah and you think anyone could pale in comparison compared to that.
"That graphic doesn't cover him in glory but you now have a Leeds United striker being talked about as in the same ranks as those players.
"That shows how far he and Leeds have come because we are not talking about the best players in the Championship.
"We are talking about him in the company of world class strikers and world class strikers are not ten a penny and we are not tripping over them because it's a very specialist part of the game and one of the hardest parts of the game.
"To be able to have a Leeds United striker in that chat that can score goals at this level, that shows how far they have come."
Prutton added: "You also have to remember what we expect from a striker nowadays and I resume the word has changed really.
"'Striker' suggests someone who strikes a lot and scores a lot of goals but a forward is that player that looks forward, gets their team up the pitch and defends from the front which is exactly what he does.
"When there has been debate about Patrick leading the line, it has been purely about his finishing ability and nothing to do with his application, his endeavour or his work rate which is needed in a Marcelo Bielsa team and has all been there.
"That is absolutely phenomenal and should be celebrated."
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Thank you Laura Collins