Spotlight on Jean-Kevin Augustin as striker replaces Patrick Bamford to enhance claims for first Leeds United start
JEAN KEVIN-AUGUSTIN came off the bench to immediately improve Leeds United's goal threat at Nottingham Forest and already press claims for a first start.
Whites head coach Marcelo Bielsa provided an epic 20-minute answer asked about January recruit Augustin's fitness in his pre-match press conference on Thursday afternoon.
In short, Bielsa said he would only play Augustin when he was fit enough to be able to showcase his skills and do both himself and the team justice.
The head coach had earlier said the necessary adaptation period had taken over a month with previous recruits with Augustin then playing 45 minutes for United's under-23s on both Monday and Friday evening.
As such, given Bielsa's words, it was something of a surprise to see the 22-year-old on the bench for Saturday's clash at the City Ground but the Frenchman was called for in the 71st minute in a like-for-like positional swap with lone striker Patrick Bamford.
Against the club where his career Began, Bamford managed just one attempt on goal - a sideways first-half header - with the Whites no 9 having just 22 touches and a passing completion rate of 82 per cent.
Bamford proved successful with one out of his two attempted aerial battles but was dispossessed twice, fouled once and offside once when blocking a Whites shot at goal.
Even given Thursday's reservations about Augustin's fitness, Bielsa decided it was time for a change with 19 minutes left and whilst Augustin managed just six touches of the ball, two of those resulted in shots at goal.
Both efforts were blocked - a fierce drive that looked goalbound and a header that was deflected for a corner as United desperately looked for an equaliser.
Augustin only attempted three passes but all three were accurate though the striker was only successful in one of his four attempted aerial battles though not dispossessed once.
Crucially, the forward will also have benefited from 21 minutes plus added time of first-team action against Forest and based on Saturday's evidence, the sooner Augustin starts the better.
Bamford has only netted in one of his last eight games - via a brace in the 3-2 win at home to Millwall - though Bielsa has stayed extremely loyal to the striker in previous disappointing runs.
With just 15 games left and United's place in the automatic promotion spots hanging by a thread, it remains to be seen when Augustin gets his first Whites league start and if that will be instead of Bamford or as well as to improve United's goal threat.