One of the more surprising decisions Marcelo Bielsa has made during his time at Leeds United was arguably the call to not use Ryan Edmondson at any stage this season.
Amongst the fans, Edmondson has long been considered one of the finest talents in the under-23 ranks at Elland Road. And he has had a taste of first-team football under Bielsa.
However, he has not made a senior appearance since September 2018.
But with Patrick Bamford coming in for criticism at times this term, and Leeds not having an obvious backup between Eddie Nketiah’s return to Arsenal and Jean-Kevin Augustin’s arrival, many seemed to implore Bielsa to give Edmondson a chance at the start of the year.
However, Bielsa continued to hold off on using the teenager. And Edmondson was dealt a further blow with Leeds confirming on their official website in early February that he had undergone surgery on a knee injury and would be sidelined for around three months.
Agonisingly for Edmondson, Bielsa then suggested – in comments reported by Leeds Live – that the forward had impressed him in the training session in which he broke down.
“Ryan Edmondson, he played 20 matches in the under-23s,” he said, as reported by Leeds Live. “What I saw was never enough to be considered for me. Even though we watch every match and we analyse to try to help him progress. In the last training he had a great performance. And in this problem he had an injury in his knee.”
“I am the first one who wants Edmondson playing here,” he went on to add. “When he got injured in the knee last week, I didn’t know that he had the injury in the knee. So I started to shout at him, saying continue playing, continue playing because you’re doing a great training. You are doing in 20 minutes what we are expecting from you in 18 months. And after the luck decided that he had a problem.”
The injury suggested that Edmondson’s season was over. Given the time it takes for injured players to prove their fitness to Bielsa, it appeared that the youngster would not have long enough upon his return to get back into contention.
However, given everything going on right now, perhaps there is a chance that that may not be the case.
Should Edmondon return on time, he should be back training by the end of April. Meanwhile, it would currently be a huge surprise if the final nine games of the season were played anytime in the near future.
Should the season go into June and July therefore, Edmondson can perhaps set his sights on a potential chance.
Bielsa’s comments should motivate Edmondson upon his return. And while Augustin’s presence presents a stumbling block, Bielsa has shown little reluctance when it comes to leaving big names out if they are not at the level required.
From there, Edmondson may only need one opportunity to establish himself as a first-team player at Elland Road. Every goal is a big goal from this point on. And Edmondson is a player who finishes chances.
He may have thought a possible opportunity had been snatched from him due to injury. But perhaps, all the pieces could still fall into place for the striker this season.