A defeat to Swansea City before the international break might have been a setback for high-flying Leeds United, but the Whites are pretty much on the track for automatic promotion this time after squandering their promotion hopes towards the closure of the previous campaign.
Marcelo Bielsa roped in the likes of Ben White, Eddie Nketiah and Helder Costa who have strengthened the first-team set-up, but the future of Jack Clarke remains uncertain. The homegrown prodigy might leave the Leeds camp in January after failing to break into the manager’s plan since being roped in and loaned back to West Yorkshire by Tottenham Hotspur earlier this summer.
According to reliable Phil Hay, he won’t be surprised if the 18-year-old is recalled by the Lilywhites in January unless the situation changes drastically when the season resumes.
“At this rate, I can see him going back in January. Spurs have the option to recall him then. It’s no good for anybody if he’s not even making the squad and he’s the odd one out of the six loanees. It’s not even like injuries can help him unless it’s a loanee who gets injured.”
Hay revealed in a Q&A with The Athletic (subscription needed).
What Has Gone Wrong For The Youngster?
The veteran Argentine, who is hailed for nurturing and promoting the youth, handed Clarke his senior debut last season amid an array of injury woes. The teenager went on to feature 25 times, scored twice and impressed with his blistering pace, trickery and composure from the flanks. Clarke’s excellence drew interest from the Premier League hotshots with Spurs winning the race in securing his services.
The youngster has done no wrong but is now way down the pecking order behind Pablo Hernandez, Jack Harrison, Ezgjan Alioski and Helder Costa. He needs minutes to flourish his game which, however, would benefit Spurs in the long run. Bielsa is building the squad for the future and Clarke, not a part of it anymore, is struggling for game-time.
What’s Next For Him At Elland Road
There’s not much hope left for the youngster at Elland Road. However, the gaffer’s lack of rotation might result in fatigue and injuries similar to the previous season. Pablo Hernandez, 34, is featuring week in week out whereas the fitness concern of Barry Douglas has forced Bielsa to deploy Alioski in a makeshift left-back role.
Clarke has only been considered for the Cup games so far, and Leeds United’s exit from the EFL Cup suggests that the young attacker might have already made his final appearance for his boyhood club. He won’t be guaranteed first-team minutes in North London, but a temporary switch to a mid-table Championship side would be the best solution for all parties involved considering the current situation.