‘Dominated’: Skubala left very impressed by 19-year-old Leeds United player yesterday, he's just returned from injury
Leeds United’s under-21s narrowly missed out on advancing in the Papa John’s Trophy last night.
A 0-0 draw with Crewe Alexandra led to penalties, and neither side covered themselves in glory.
There were seven missed penalties between the two sides, with Regan Griffiths eventually winning it for the League 2 side.
It was a good opportunity for Skubala to give some of Leeds’ young guns an opportunity to play against a senior side.
He was also able to play a few first team players who were returning to full fitness and hadn’t featured under Jesse Marsch recently.
Mateusz Klich played the whole match after being an unused substitute against Liverpool at the weekend.
Junior Firpo continued making progress towards full fitness by also playing the whole match.
The 26-year-old has only played twice in the Premier League this season since picking up an injury in pre-season.
He had a poor game against Leicester two weeks ago, but at least kept a clean sheet last night.
Firpo was joined in defence by another player attempting to reach full fitness once again.
That was Norwegian centre-back Leo Hjelde, who really impressed Skubala last night.
Skubala was really impressed with Hjelde last night
The Leeds coach spoke after the match about his side’s disappointing penalty shootout defeat.
Skubala took plenty of positives out of game, including Hjelde’s performance.
“We dominated the game, we just couldn’t unlock their low block. It was one of those days where you don’t want to have one of those days,” Skubala said.
“It’s not very often you come the away ground and they set up as the away team. They just sat in, they got back quick and they made it awkward.
“Positives, Klichy got through 90 minutes and I thought he was all over the pitch, he did really well. Firpo got through 90 minutes again and did well.
“Leo has come back from a long-term injury. I thought he played well and dominated as a centre-half.
Hjelde was on the bench for five of Leeds’ first six matches this season, before having to have his appendix removed.
The Norwegian has made four first team appearances at Elland Road, including a Premier League debut against West Ham in January.
Marsch has admitted he thinks very highly of Hjelde, and the 19-year-old has already been involved in the Carabao Cup this season.
Skubala was impressed with Hjelde’s return yesterday, and the Norwegian will be hoping to break into the first-team again soon.