Why Ian Poveda appears to have taken advantage of Leeds United's enforced break

Leeds United winger Ian Poveda. (Getty)Leeds United winger Ian Poveda. (Getty)
Leeds United winger Ian Poveda. (Getty)
Ian Poveda looked set to have minimal impact on Leeds United's promotion chase until the enforced break in play.

When Ian Poveda put pen to paper on a four-and-a-half-year contract at Elland Road in January he couldn't have envisaged what lay ahead.

Nearly five months to the day of his signing the former Manchester City winger finally made his long-awaited first team debut for the club in the 2-0 defeat at Cardiff City on Sunday lunchtime.

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The 20-year-old was thrust into Championship action for the first time under Marcelo Bielsa's watchful eye with the Whites chasing the game in south Wales.

Poveda had shown signs of life for the club's Under-23s side before the season was called to a halt in mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic but was struggling to make any impact at senior level - having only been included in two first team matchday squads ahead of the break.

The tricky wide man recorded a memorable assist against Barnsley - the final development game before the pause in play - and it looked like his adaptation period at Thorp Arch was nearing completion.

Poveda made the move across the Pennines with a growing reputation and Pep Guardiola's blessing.

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"I think Leeds United is an incredible challenge," the City boss said.

"To be training for one of the best, or maybe the best manager in the world, in terms of how he helps the players to be better players.

“He has an incredible power to develop. For the way Leeds play suits perfect for his qualities.”

Poveda, though, hadn't stood out in match action until that day at Oakwell Training Complex and Bielsa's thoughts about his new winger needing time to adjust to the process said as much.

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Fast forward a little over three months and a 13-minute cameo against the Bluebirds upon the restart suggests that he has now done enough to warrant inclusion in United's plans for the promotion run-in.

Though Leeds were up against it with time running out, Poveda provided the odd spark and dangerous moment during his 16 touches on the ball as he linked up with full-back Stuart Dallas on the right attempting to open up a robust Cardiff defence.

United had a bigger 20-man squad for their first game after the restart under the new EFL guidelines, but Poveda stepping off the bench indicates that Bielsa believes he may just have a role to play in the push for Premier League football.

While big name winter signing Jean-Kevin Augustin looks unlikely to have any serious impact on the final fixtures as he continues his individual training, United's other capture looks to have thrown his name into the hat over the 106 day break.