Spotlight on Sam Greenwood as teenage Leeds United striker starts deep for Whites debut

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SAM Greenwood came off the bench for his Leeds United debut in Sunday's 3-0 loss at third round FA Cup hosts Crawley Town and showed glimpses of what he can do on a tough afternoon and starting from deep.

Greenwood has been plundering the goals for United's under-23s since his summer switch from Arsenal and the 18-year-old striker made the Whites bench for the first time against Crawley.

Even with Patrick Bamford rested, record signing Rodrigo was selected in the lone striker role and winger Jack Harrison then moved into the position when Rodrigo was taken off at the break.

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With Leeds 2-0 down and staring at being subjected to yet another early round FA Cup upset, Greenwood was finally handed his chance from the bench two minutes before the hour.

DEBUT: For 18-year-old Leeds United forward Sam Greenwood against Crawley Town. Picture by Simon Hulme.DEBUT: For 18-year-old Leeds United forward Sam Greenwood against Crawley Town. Picture by Simon Hulme.
DEBUT: For 18-year-old Leeds United forward Sam Greenwood against Crawley Town. Picture by Simon Hulme.

Yet Harrison stayed in the lone striker role meaning Greenwood effectively played as a centre midfielder with Pablo Hernandez also still on the park and Helder Costa and Raphinha out wide.

Greenwood has played as a centre midfielder and no 10 for United's under-23s, as well as upfront, just the sort of versatility that Whites head coach Marcelo Bielsa loves.

But Greenwood appears a natural centre forward and was unable to really get going against Crawley though he still managed 21 touches of the ball and 13 passes of which 11 were accurate for a success rate of 85 per cent.

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The teenager also attempted two dribbles with one of those successful and the Whites youngster was making good progress when sent sprawling to the ground as Leeds looked to break forward in the 65th minute.

Greenwood let frustration get the better of him in the 73rd minute when penalised for a foul via a push in the back on the half way line.

By the time the forward unleashed his one attempt at goal in the 87th minute, Leeds were 3-0 down and going nowhere yet Greenwood sent in a powerful effort from the edge of the box that knocked down Crawley's Tom Nichols after catching him clean.

Greenwood has netted six goals in just eight appearances for United's under-23s so far this season and this is a striker who netted 12 times in 14 appearances for England's under-17s and is one in three for England's under-18s.

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The striker who cost Leeds around £1.5m as part of a deal that could be worth up to £3m will not turn 19 until the end of this month and the summer Whites recruit looks to have a huge future.

Sunday's debut did not exactly come in the circumstances he would have been looking for but better times will be around the corner and at least that maiden first team outing is now under his belt.

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