Leeds United are set to welcome back their Spanish midfielder Samuel Saiz after he served a six-match ban for spitting at an opponent during their disappointing FA Cup defeat at Newport County in January. The Peacocks were handed a big boost ahead of their trip to Derby County on Wednesday night with Saiz back in their match-day squad. He started the match on the bench and came on after 55 minutes to help his side retake the lead through Ergjan Alioski’s goal only to see the Rams equalise in injury time courtesy of a Kasey Palmer strike. The contest ended with both teams sharing the spoils in a highly entertaining 2-2 draw at Pride Park.
Heckingbottom is still searching for his first victory as a Leeds United manager since replacing their former boss Thomas Christiansen at the helm. He has suffered a defeat at Sheffield United before securing two 2-2 draws versus Bristol City and Derby County respectively in his first three matches in charge at Elland Road. In a pre-match interview ahead of their clash with Derby County at Pride Park, the Leeds United boss shed some light on Saiz’s situation at the club and was quoted to have said,
“He (Saiz) is champing at the bit,”
“He’s ready to go and he knows he has got a lot to prove and knows he let a lot of people down.
“He has had a lot of extra training sessions as he was out for a long time.”
Leeds United are currently in 11th place in the Skybet Championship standings with a tally of 46 points in 33 league matches. Paul Heckingbottom’s side are in dire need of some favourable results in the coming weeks along with a lot of luck to have any chance of securing a playoff spot at the end of the season. The Peacocks find themselves a massive 8 points behind sixth-placed Bristol City, who occupy the final playoff position. Only time will tell whether the new manager can push his players to climb up the table going into the final stretch of the campaign.
It is no secret that Leeds United missed Saiz in the last few weeks which ultimately led towards their previous manager getting the sack after a string of poor results. The Spanish midfielder has featured in 26 matches for the Peacocks this season, scoring 9 goals while also providing 5 assists in all competitions.
It remains to be seen whether Saiz can establish himself as first-team regular under Paul Heckingbottom and can help Leeds United achieve a top 6 finish this season.