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Mike Maignan’s incredible form must convince Leeds United to give Bailey Peacock-Farrell time

Mathew Nash

Bailey Peacock-Farrell has had an interesting campaign so far. His performances in pre-season convinced Marcelo Bielsa that he was the man between the sticks for Leeds United. He has also earned his place as Northern Ireland’s number one stopper. He held off the fight for first-team stopper duties from Jamal Blackman, who is no longer with the club after suffering a leg break.

It means that, despite criticism, Peacock-Farrell looks set to remain the Leeds number one going forward.

Some Leeds fans feel he is not good enough for the role. However, it is important to remember his age and to look at the form of a player who was in a similar position under Bielsa last season.

When the Argentine took over at Lille he made a swift and controversial decision in the goalkeeper department. Long-term stopper and fan favourite Vincent Enyeama was told he would not be used as the first-choice keeper anymore.

BLACKBURN, ENGLAND – OCTOBER 20: Leeds United’s Bailey Peacock-Farrell celebrates after his side scores their first goal during the Sky Bet Championship match between Blackburn Rovers and Leeds United at Ewood Park on October 20, 2018 in Blackburn, England. (Photo by Rachel Holborn – CameraSport via Getty Images )

Instead, Bielsa drafted in Mike Maignan. The young stopper was a former PSG product who, like Peacock-Farrell had minimal first-team experience. But Bielsa trusted him. Even as Lille struggled and Maignan was criticised, especially after a silly red card three games into the season, Bielsa held strong.

The decision has now been justified. Maignan remains Lille’s number one stopper. Developing a reputation as ‘the penalty king’ the 23-year-old has even been tipped for a potential French international call-up.

Leeds fans are right to be concerned by Peacock-Farrell. But Bielsa stuck by Maignan and in the long-run, he has become one of French football’s best stoppers.

Giving the same support to the Northern Irishman might just have a similar impact at Leeds.

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