Leeds United face Ben White for the first time since the centre-back left Elland Roas after becoming a fan favourite during the club’s promotion to the Premier League – as the Whites prepare to face Brighton at Elland Road. Nigel Martyn has told LeedsUnited.News that the defender will be desperate to play well against his old side, and underlined the importance of a win.
White, 23, played every single match for us during the 2019-20 campaign. Initially signed as a complete unknown by Marcelo Bielsa as a replacement for Pontus Jansson, White immediately became a favourite among supporters for his rock-solid, ball-playing performances from the middle of the Leeds defence. It saw Leeds try to sign him permanently in the summer.
However, Brighton played hard ball and despite reportedly having numerously offers rejected, making their interest in the uncapped England defender public and White seemingly keen to join – Leeds failed to get their man. Instead, White ended up signing a new long-term contract with Brighton, and has been a mainstay in their side ever since.
Ahead of Saturday’s clash, Leeds hero Martyn explained why the clash against the Seagulls is an absolutely crucial game for Leeds – stating that it is must-win following two successive 3-0 losses to Tottenham and then to League Two side Crawley Town. Martyn also explained that White will be desperate to perform at Elland Road, and show what Leeds are missing.
“It will be hard for him because he made no secret that he wanted to join Leeds. But he was a victim of his own success,” Martyn said. “Brighton kept him, said you’re in the team and you’re still a Brighton player and we’re going to keep you. He will want to do well. It is a game that Leeds have to win, they have to bounce back from the Crawley defeat.”
Leeds go into the match with a clean bill of health, other than long-term injuries to both Adam Forshaw and Gaetano Berardi. Liam Cooper is fit again after playing 45 minutes against Crawley, while Diego Llorente could make only his second appearance for the Whites. Kalvin Phillips, however, will be forced to sit this one out after picking up a yellow card against Tottenham. A win for Leeds could see them leapfrog Arsenal into 11th place.