Adam Forshaw last featured for Leeds United in September 2019. It is now the best part of 18 months since that game – a 1-0 away defeat to Charlton Athletic at The Valley – and now Phil Hay has delivered a somewhat damning verdict on the ex-Middlesbrough star’s future at Elland Road.
Forshaw, 29, was signed for a hefty £4.5million (BBC) in January 2018 but has never really recaptured his best form in a Leeds shirt. During his time at Middlesbrough in the Premier League, he was even linked with an England call-up for his performances in the middle of the park under Aitor Karanka. Fast forward until now, and it is a very different position that Forshaw finds himself in.
He had started well during the 2019-20 campaign, the season in which Leeds finally gained promotion to the Premier League. The Whites had won four of the seven Championship matches he had played in, but has been injured since and entered the final 18 months of his contract at the turn of the year. He continues to work hard to regain his fitness behind the scenes.
But asked about the ex-Everton and Brentford star on Twitter, Athletic reporter Hay responded by stating that he finds it hard to see a way back for the box-to-box midfielder at Elland Road. Indeed, it is hard, given the signings Leeds have made in that position since Forshaw’s injury – including Rodrigo.
Bielsa gave an update in his press conference – as per the YEP – on Tuesday, in regards to Forshaw’s injury and it was probably the most upbeat bit of news he has given in regards to the club’s number four: “The problem with Forshaw is a little longer he hasn’t played for over a year now. We think he will play again in the not too distant future. Forshaw is a professional who looks after his health very much, that’s why I think that as soon as his injury problems are resolved he will be able to compete very quickly.”
But returning from the injury and being available for selection, and then actually regaining his place in Bielsa’s side, are two completely different things. Would a fit Forshaw before his injury have even got in the side over Rodrigo? Probably not. That Forshaw would have been a good squad player, but it remains to be seen if he can reach that level again.
Keeping him at the club may also stunt the progress of Jamie Shackleton, who has impressed on occasion this season. Leeds have also tried to sign another player in that position – with moves for Michael Cuisance and Rodrigo De Paul coming in the summer. So, as much as many Leeds fans and perhaps even Bielsa himself would like to say differently, Forshaw may struggle to get back into the Leeds side on a regular basis. A move away, as Hay hints at, might be his best bet.