Leeds United were prime promotion contenders after narrowly missing out a playoff spot last season under Garry Monk. The Swansea legend, however, declined to continue and the Whites appointed Thomas Christiansen as Monk’s successor. Despite having a low-key profile, the ex-APOEL boss handed them a sensational start which led to a belief that Leeds United might finally return to Premier League – a league they used to represent with distinction once upon a time.
Things, however, altered very soon when a series of poor outcomes saw the management parting ways with Christiansen and the appointment of Paul Heckingbottom has not improved their dismal run of form either. The Whites are currently placed mid-table with no promotion hopes alive and the new boss has opted to promote the youngsters over the summer and winter recruits who failed to deliver. Felix Wiedwald, the high-profile summer signing, and veteran Andy Lonergan – both of their preferred first-choice goalkeepers are having a dreadful season and Heckingbottom, hence, decided to promote the 21-year-old academy prodigy Bailey Peacock-Farrell ahead of the experienced duo.
The youngster, who has recently represented the U21 side of Northern Ireland, has brought back stability between the sticks with some promising performances. Although the Peacocks have rarely won since his introduction, Peacock-Farrell has earned applauds for his impressive display and now hopes to be Leeds’ ‘number 1’ for seasons to come. His latest outing in a 1-0 defeat against promotion aspirers Aston Villa portrayed the excellence once more and the young keeper is utilizing his opportunities pretty well to stake a claim in next season’s first-team squad.
“I don’t feel out of depth as such and I am just enjoying the moment. You sink or swim and I think I’ve been swimming recently. Sometimes you just need to wait for your chance,”Stated Peacock-Farrell who joined their academy ranks five years back from Middlesbrough who declined to offer him a scholarship despite spending seven years in their ranks.
Andrea Radrizzani, the Leeds United chairman, is certainly discontent with his side’s underperforming stars and likely to spend big in summer to reconstruct the lineup. The Italian owner wants to see his side earning a Premier League promotion as early as possible and might make a fresh recruitment for the goalkeeper slot as well. Peacock-Farrell, however, has arguably been better than Lonergan and Wiedwald, yet promoting him as club’s first-choice from next season onwards will be a massive gamble. The youngster has the potential to be a long-term solution in goal, but it’s still too soon and will be a big ask for the custodian to perform week in week out at a consistent level.
The Whites, therefore, must look for a senior keeper who holds experience in English football and will be able to deliver at his peak for at least a couple of seasons more. Peacock-Farrell should be preferred in domestic cup competitions and work as the second-fiddle for the time being but must keep knocking the first-team door until he becomes Leeds’ ‘number 1’.
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