The imminent real return of Jack Clarke couldn’t have come at a better time for Marcelo Bielsa and Leeds United given the tight run-in they will have before the season ends in May.
Obviously, Clarke missed more than a month’s action due to health complications after he was substituted at halftime during the Whites’ match with Middlesbrough early in February. And, given how influential and resilient he’s been the whole season, prior to the health issue, Bielsa and Leeds fans would’ve been very happy to see him back on the pitch in the club’s previous two matches.
The 18-year-old got a little more than ten minutes against Sheffield United just before the international break, but on Saturday the manager brought him on in place of defender Pontus Jansson in the 67th minute of the match against Millwall.
The pressure Leeds applied in those final 20 minutes of the match was relentless and Clarke looked lively and keen to move forward with the ball as he has done so often this season for Leeds. His ability to run at opposition defenders with speed and skill has been brilliant and he is also an excellent passer of the ball.
The decision to bring him on in place of a defender was definitely due to the fact that the Whites were 2-1 behind at that stage. That’s the kind of ambitious thinking required at this stage of what could be Leeds’ most famous campaign in modern history, throwing caution to the wind.
But, wave after wave of Leeds attack eventually took its toll on the Millwall defenders with Luke Ayling and Pablo Hernandez scoring, much to the delight of the fans at Elland Road.
Bielsa, though, will have to be careful in how he uses Clarke for the remainder of the season.
The winger has, however, been very influential coming off the bench this season and it could be the perfect way to get him back into the thick of things for the remaining matches.
Leeds will need every bit of firepower they can get to earn promotion to the Premier League for next season and having an energetic young player like Clarke on their bench to make a proper impact will definitely increase their chances of playing top-flight football again.
It’s time to get excited.
Leeds fans, how big of a role do you think Jack Clarke will play in the final few games of the season? Join the discussion by commenting below…