A win over Queens Park Rangers granted Leeds United the luxury of a five-point lead over third-placed Sheffield United as well as Derby County. But the fear of falling apart can’t be ruled out considering their injury concerns, particularly between the sticks where rookie Bailey Peacock-Farrell is continuing as first-choice despite a series of erroneous outings.
Jamal Blackman, the Chelsea loanee, is unlikely to feature again this season after breaking his leg which must have forced the Whites to rethink about their business strategy in the upcoming winter window.
EFL expert Sam Parkin, meanwhile, made an interesting claim while speaking on the Totally Football League Show podcast. He fancies Tom Heaton ending up with either Leeds United or Aston Villa next month should Burnley let the outcast custodian depart.
“I think it’s all dependent on the fitness of Nick Pope and when he is able to be involved at Burnley. I’m pretty sure one of them will get him and that will be a big leg-up. He will instantly upgrade Villa and I think Leeds.”
A devastating injury blow at the pinnacle of his career cost him his starting role following Nick Pope’s uprise. But the 32-year-old could not reclaim his place when Pope got sidelined in the early days of this campaign and Sean Dyche, the Clarets chief, opted to bring in the experienced Joe Hart in a cut-price deal sending Heaton further down the pecking order at Turf Moor.
The Three Lions international, now fit enough to feature again, needs to resume his career elsewhere to attain regular minutes. He is too good to remain as an understudy and should be open to returning to the second tier where he was once a promising prospect with Cardiff City and Burnley later on.
Dyche, too, admitted the possibility of a winter egress while discussing Heaton’s future a couple of months back and Leeds now must grab the opportunity to rope in the veteran goalkeeper who would bring back stability at the back.
Injury to Liam Cooper, Luke Ayling, Stuart Dallas and Gaetano Berardi has forced Marcelo Bielsa to deploy teenager Jamie Shackleton and youngster Kalvin Phillips in makeshift roles whereas 20-year-old Aapo Halme is also being handed senior minutes to figure out the ongoing conundrum.
Heaton’s experience will be massive for Leeds youngsters to play with more confidence and belief, but the Whites must make a move soon before the custodian is snapped up by league counterparts.
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