Mark Jackson watched his Leeds United Under-23’s end the 2020-21 campaign in style with a brilliant 5-2 win over Burnley after having already gained promotion as champions to Premier League 2’s top tier – as Sam Greenwood netted a brace to finish at the top of the goalscoring charts for Jackson’s men. In a crazy, end-to-end game, here are three talking points including a questionable moment from one of the 23’s most-exciting stars:
Drameh can be Ayling’s long-term replacement
Luke Ayling is clearly one of the club’s best players, and certainly one of the most-consistent ones. You would not believe that Leeds had just gained promotion to the Premier League with the way he has continued to improve under Marcelo Bielsa – but looking forward, Leeds need to start thinking about his long-term replacement.
Ayling turns 30 in August and while he continues to shine and is likely to do so for another couple of season, Leeds need to scour the market for a marauding right-back that can also play at centre-back – or they do? Drameh, signed from Fulham, is all of those things and arguably been the most-consistent player in the 23’s throughout 20-21. He scored on Monday, his first of the season; the ideal man to replace Ayling in the long term.
Summerville incident not pleasant to watch
We can all understand a player’s desire to impress. Even more so at 23’s level, given they are all so keen to show Marcelo Bielsa and the rest of the Leeds coaching staff what they are capable of. But to try and wrestle the ball off a teammate and have a petulant strop and not being able to take a penalty, when you know full well top-scorer Greenwood is the penalty taker, is something that will not impress Bielsa.
Crysencio Summerville came on at half-time and after laying on an assist for Niall Huggins, he won a penalty. He wanted to take it himself and ended up getting booked for refusing to walk away with Greenwood the nominated taker. Charlie Cresswell had to wrestle the ball out of his hands and even Jackson called from the sidelines that Greenwood was to take it. Poor from Summerville, one that he really needs to learn from.
Does Shackleton need a loan?
The 21-year-old has clocked up 63 appearances in all competitions at Leeds under the guidance of Bielsa and was considered first choice at times during the club’s two years in the Championship, with the Argentine in charge. But now, he is well down the pecking order – and instead of getting minutes in the first team, he is warming the bench and then playing regularly for the Under-23’s.
It is a backwards step and with more recruitment expected this summer, Shackleton really needs to have a serious look as to where he sees his future. Ideally, he needs to go on loan to a Championship or even a Premier League club this summer – somewhere where he will get regular game time and remind Bielsa of his growing talent. The 23’s is below him.