Leeds United U21s assistant coach Michal Pujdak believes some of the club’s young stars are on the verge of being ready for a call-up to the first team.
Pujdadk was speaking to LeedsLive after the young Whites sealed their promotion back to Premier League 2 Division 1 with a 3-0 play-off final win over Nottingham Forest at Elland Road.
After a hard-fought 2-1 victory against Aston Villa in the semi-finals, it was a relatively comfortable night in comparison for Leeds on Monday as Georginio Rutter got the scoring underway in the first half.
Jeremiah Mullen then doubled Leeds’ advantage almost 20 minutes later with a stunning volley, before Kris Moore rounded off the scoring shortly after the break.
Pujdak delivers verdict on U21s’ first team prospects
Leeds have placed a huge emphasis on academy recruitment in the last few seasons and it is about time that started to pay dividends.
Crysencio Summerville is the only one who has really been able to establish himself as a first team regular after coming through the U21s, but there are certainly high hopes for the likes of Darko Gyabi, Archie Gray and Sonny Perkins.
Pujdak believes several members of the squad are now getting closer and closer to being handed the opportunity due to experiences such as Monday’s final victory in front of a crowd of 12,000.
He said: “Yes, for sure. They’re getting ready every week with every game, with every experience like tonight, they’re building and it’s about one or two per cent gains every week for me.
“So when they are ready, I’m sure the manager will call upon them. It feels great.
“But ultimately the biggest reward is to see the lads being happy and see them progress.
“When one or two make it into the squad so they can contribute to the first team in the Premier League, that’s ultimately the biggest achievement and the biggest reward.”
Whatever division Leeds find themselves next season, it is time to start flushing out some of the old guard and handing opportunities to these talented youngsters.
Gyabi, for example, was playing in the same U21s side as Romeo Lavia at Manchester City last season, who ended up moving onto Southampton and is now valued in excess of £50 million after an excellent campaign.
Leeds are never going to reap the rewards of this long-term strategy if they aren’t prepared to hand these youngsters a chance and this summer will hopefully ignite the start of a new era, one way or another.