Marcelo Bielsa’s methods often draw opinions, and the Argentine’s call to overlook Ryan Edmondson for his Leeds squad touring Australia caught United icon Noel Whelan by surprise.
The 18-year-old forward was left behind in West Yorkshire when the boss put together his travelling squad, but did not let the disappointment stop him from striking a hat-trick against Tadcaster Albion on Wednesday in a friendly much closer to home.
But having also been overlooked for much of the 2018/19 season, Whelan has told Football Insider that a chance to tour Australia would have been perfect for the attacker to integrate himself into the first-team set-up, and be able to display his potential to Bielsa.
“Ryan Edmondson, he’s got a hat-trick this week, I would have liked to see him out there to be quite honest with you, to see him integrated into the first-team a bit more,” Whelan said.
“I’m disappointed he hasn’t been taken across to Australia with the team and given that opportunity, because he’s a player I’ve been impressed with for a while now. I felt he should have been more involved last season. He wasn’t even on the bench at times.
“He’s been banging in goals for fun [with the Under 23s]. He’s a big, strong boy, [and] he’s something different to what we have in strikers. I’m really surprised he’s not gone out, and when I see the goals that he’s taken against Tadcaster – fantastic.
“He could be the future of Leeds United, but he needs to be integrated. He should have gone across.”
The boss only called on the teenage forward once last season, as he handed the Whites product his second senior outing at Elland Road as a late substitute against Birmingham City on matchday nine.
Even outings on the bench were a rare occurrence last term, despite injuries to Kemar Roofe and Patrick Bamford, with the former York academy player named as a back-up four times and overlooked for several months.
Edmondson’s only other first-team game with United before Bielsa’s arrival came at the end of the season before, when he was awarded a 16-minute run out against Queens Park Rangers on the right-wing.
The door to the first-team cannot be closed much longer for Edmondson if Bielsa and the board are not considering a loan deal for the York-born talent. Next season simply must be his breakthrough campaign if he has a future in West Yorkshire, and his contract expiring in 2021 will only press the matter if 2019/20 proves to be another tough campaign for the forward.