FELIX WIEDWALD has been challenged to claw back his place at Leeds United after being told that Andy Lonergan is set for a run in the club’s starting line-up.
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Wiedwald was dropped to the bench after 11 straight Championship starts on Saturday as Leeds head coach Thomas Christiansen reacted quickly to doubts about the goalkeeper’s influence in previous games.
The former Werder Bremen player was criticised for his performance in a 3-0 defeat to Sheffield Wednesday before the international break and accused of contributing to the nervous defensive display which ended in a heavy loss at Hillsborough.
Christiansen, who took a major decision in the summer by replacing Rob Green with Wiedwald as first choice after the German’s £500,000 move from Bremen, appeared to give Wiedwald a vote of confidence in his pre-match press conference but caused a surprise on Saturday by dropping him for a 1-0 defeat to Reading.
Lonergan’s performance at Elland Road justified Christiansen’s call, despite Reading claiming a late win through substitute Mo Barrow, and the 33-year-old – another summer signing who arrived from Wolverhampton Wanderers after Green quit Elland Road for Huddersfield Town – is expected to receive an extended chance to play.
Christiansen had promised before the international break to analyse Wiedwald’s influence and the United boss said: “I have been thinking about this for a while. I believed that with playing at home there were things Andy could give the team. I thought he had a good game.”
Christiansen, however, said he would not need to offer Wiedwald consoling words, insisting that other players were also being forced to accept time on the sidelines.
Young midfielder Ronaldo Vieira was again absent from United’s squad against Reading having returned to training after a minor injury late last week.
Gjanni Alioski also failed to make the bench as Christiansen rested him on the back of two appearances for Macedonia in World Cup qualifiers.
“If I have to talk to Felix because he’s one day out then Ronny, who didn’t come in the squad because he only trained two days, I have to speak more with him as well,” Christiansen said.
“He (Wiedwald) is professional and he’s been playing from the beginning. Now it’s his turn to be on the bench and wait for his opportunity again, like all the players.”
Leeds succumbed to an 85th-minute goal from substitute Barrow, an effort which was allowed to stand despite suspicions of a foul on Pablo Hernandez in the build-up.
He (Wiedwald) is professional and he’s been playing from the beginning. Now it’s his turn to be on the bench and wait for his opportunity again, like all the players.Leeds head coach, Felix Wiedwald
Barrow spent the second half of last season on loan at Leeds from Swansea City but made precious little impact and only five appearances as the club tailed off towards a seventh-placed finish in the Championship.
The forward, whose goal was his second of the season, insisted he had taken no specific pleasure from finding the net against a club where he failed to make an impression.
Reading were in the Championship’s bottom three before kick-off on Saturday and Barrow said: “When I went on I was trying to focus just on Reading and not about last season.
“We’ve had some difficult moments in the last few games and my mentality was just to focus on trying to get the win for the club.
“It wasn’t about me and my time at Leeds. It was important that we got back to winning ways.
“In football sometimes things don’t go your way. I respect that and had to move on. Now I’m at Reading and enjoying my football.”