HEAD COACH Thomas Christiansen says Felix Wiedwald’s display in last weekend’s 2-0 win at Barnsley gave “confidence to the team” with the German back in pole position to start in Friday night’s Championship clash with Aston Villa at Elland Road.
Summer recruit Wiedwald lost his position as first choice goalkeeper after some shaky performances between the sticks in September and October as the Whites shipped in nine goals in four league games, ending with the 3-0 loss at Sheffield Wednesday.
The experienced Andy Lonergan took over as first choice but after Lonergan himself encountered problems, Wiedwald was handed a first league start since October for last weekend’s Championship Yorkshire derby at Barnsley.
The German responded by keeping a clean sheet – his seventh of the season following United’s earlier strong start to the season – and Christiansen says the 27-year-old played a vital role in spreading confidence to the side.
Wiedwald now looks set to keep his place for the visit of fourth-placed Villa on Friday evening though Christiansen insisted only “we will see” when asked who would start in goal.
“It was important for him and for the team to keep a clean sheet after so many games receiving goals,” said Christiansen about Wiedwald’s display at Barnsley.
It is important for the goalkeeper to keep the goal to zero, just as it is to the striker to score goals. It gives confidence to the team.Leeds United boss, Thomas Christiansen
“It is important for the goalkeeper to keep the goal to zero, just as it is to the striker to score goals. It gives confidence to the team. This is important in these moments, especially in these positions.”
Wiedwald was rarely tested by a fairly toothless Tykes side last weekend but the former Werder Bremen shotstopper made one strong save towards the end to deny Ryan Hedges when United were 2-0 up.
“This was the game for (Wiedwald) to come in and it was a decision we spoke about through the week,” Christiansen said.
“We thought it was his moment. He’s performed well in training and he has learned from his mistakes.”