Patrick Bamford gave a special mention to Leeds United teammate Pascal Struijk, after he came off the bench for an impressive cameo in a vital win over Barnsley on Thursday.
Despite not hitting anywhere near top gear with the level of display, Marcelo Bielsa’s side held on for a crucial three points in a 1-0 victory and are now on the brink of automatic promotion.
Barnsley’s Michael Sollbauer put the ball in own net in the first-half in the only goal of the game at Elland Road, which means the Whites are six points above third-placed Brentford with only two games remaining.
The Yorkshire giants need a minimum one point to make sure of their top-flight return, but it could be confirmed before they play next on Sunday against Derby County.
Struijk made just his third ever senior appearance for Leeds in the Championship fixture and he settled quickly to look the part in front of the back four, with plenty of blocks, passes and interceptions.
The 20-year-old was a surprise substitution in the 61st minute for the hosts, but it showed a great deal of faith from his manager Bielsa.
Leeds forward Bamford explained that Struijk played a brand-new role in the midfield and that he’s only ever seen him in his preferred centre-back position, but that versatility should come in handy when searching for first-team minutes.
“Naturally a centre-back, only position we’ve seen him in. Done really well. Thought he did good,” Bamford said, as quoted by Leeds Live.
TBR’s View – Bielsa on brink of earning Leeds cult hero status
Bielsa once again showed his willingness to promote youth at Elland Road, as he gave Struijk a decent chunk of time in the second-half during a vital game in the season.
But the Argentine boss can now almost touch the Premier League, with his side only one point away from a long awaited top-flight return.
It would be great for the Yorkshire giants to earn that point on Sunday in the trip to Derby Country, but they may already be celebrating by then if results go in their favour.
Leeds fans have been waiting so long for a manager to come in and earn promotion, so Bielsa is on the brink of becoming a real icon at the club and he’s done it with such an eye-catching brand of football.