After throwing away a three point lead over automatic promotion challengers Sheffield United last week, Saturday’s fixture against Aston Villa represents one final chance for Leeds United this season.
Whereas a victory at Elland Road could keep their slim hopes of usurping the Blades alive, defeat against the Lions would almost certainly consign the Whites to the lottery of the play-offs in May.
When you consider the fact that the club have failed to prevail in any their three previous appearances in the knock-out competition, there is a real prospect that they could be playing Championship football for the 10th consecutive season next year.
If this is indeed the case, boss Marcelo Bielsa must consider giving youngster Paudie O’Connor the chance to feature for Leeds. Having joined Bradford City on a short-term loan in the January transfer window, the central defender has been one of the only shining lights in what has been a miserable campaign for the club.
With Bantams manager Gary Bowyer confirming that he would like O’Connor to extend his stay at Valley Parade beyond the summer following an impressive display against Gillingham last Monday, (via the Telegraph and Argus), Bielsa may be forced into making a decision on his future.
It’s believed that the defender is happy to consider a summer loan move back to Bradford, but it remains to be seen as to what will happen at the end of the season.
Although both Liam Cooper and Pontus Jansson have been excellent under the tenure-ship of the Argentine, an increase in competition for places at the back as a result of including O’Connor in the club’s plans could be highly beneficial next season.
By learning all the tricks of the trade in League One this year, the 21-year-old has clearly developed as a player and is now ready to make the step-up in level. With Leeds’ Director of Football Victor Orta a big fan of the defender, it wouldn’t be at all surprising if he makes a significant breakthrough next season.
Speaking to the club’s official website last summer following O’Connor’s decision to sign a new contract at Elland Road, the Spaniard admitted that: “We are really pleased to see Paudie sign a new deal at the club, he has huge potential and we hope he will be a key player for Leeds United for many years to come.
“Not only is he a good footballer, he also has the desire and attitude needed to take him to the top.”
What do you think Leeds fans? Should Bielsa give O’Connor a chance to prove himself next season? Or would it be more beneficial for his career to loan him out again? Let us know below.
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