Former England striker Kevin Phillips has urged Marcelo Bielsa to axe Patrick Bamford for Leeds United’s upcoming fixtures to avoid the striker growing complacent.
Bamford has started 26 of his 27 appearances in the Championship this season, with his sole game out of the side coming against Birmingham City in December as the Grantham-born forward was sidelined with a dead leg.
He returned to action as a half-time substitute three days later as we drew with West Bromwich Albion on New Year’s Day, and has not missed a second of second-tier football since.
But the £10million former Middlesbrough ace has not found the back of the net in any competition since we lost at Fulham on December 21, despite attempting six shots at QPR last Saturday, four against Sheffield Wednesday, three against the Baggies and one at home to Preston North End on Boxing Day.
His now four-game Championship drought has meant Bamford has not stretched his ten-goal haul for the season, while ranking ninth in the division’s leading ‘scorer chart with an eight-goal margin to leading hitman Fulham’s Aleksandar Mitrovic (18 goals in 26 games)
Phillips has hinted that Bamford’s drought may easily have stemmed from the lack of competition he now faces with Eddie Nketiah back with Arsenal, and feels Bielsa ought to be drastic when we face Millwall on Tuesday night.
“Is the pressure getting, not just to him, but to all of Leeds?” Phillips pondered, while speaking with Football Insider. “I read Bielsa’s comments speaking about pressure, he doesn’t think it’s that, he thinks it’s just not taking their chances.
Can Bielsa afford to leave Bamford out of the side?
“You perhaps could see the frustration, it’s all building up. Bamford, at the minute, he might be a player that just needs to maybe come out the side for two or three games, just to refresh his mind.
“If he comes out, who can go in and fill his boots? It’s a tough one for him [Bielsa] at the moment.”
Bielsa could turn to the Under 23s in search of a temporary stand-in for Bamford and award 18-year-old Ryan Edmondson only his third first-team appearance, and only his second under the Argentine after featuring in the 2-1 loss at home to Birmingham City on September 22, 2018.
Edmondson has struck eight goals in the Professional Development League as part of Carlo Corberan’s junior side this season, having also hit nine in the 2018/19 campaign on route to the North Division title.
If Bielsa chooses to continue with his opposition to awarding Edmondson first-team minutes, Tyler Roberts is capable of occupying the centre-forward slot and has scored three of his four senior United goals during his 13 games played as our striker.
In other Leeds United news, the club are NOT expected to make a six-goal striker our January saviour despite recent reports.