Leeds have sent four players to EFL clubs, one across the border to the Scottish Premiership and a sixth to the Spanish second tier, as part of a new stance on loan deals.
Previously young players progressed through Under 23s matches under Bielsa’s watchful eye at Thorp Arch, but promotion to the Premier League and the addition of a new crop of prospects has enabled those in need of men’s football to go and find it elsewhere.
Of the players currently away from the club, Jordan Stevens has amassed the most minutes of league action having gone to Swindon in League One and hit the ground running. He scored on his debut and set up a goal in his second appearance. Since John Sheridan took charge, Stevens has started two of the Leeds hero’s five games as Robins boss, but the 616 minutes of League One football he has enjoyed thus far will have pleased Bielsa.
Similarly, Alfie McCalmont and Bryce Hosannah have earned almost 470 minutes apiece in League Two. The pair have each played in two FA Cup games while McCalmont, who has also played for Northern Ireland Under 21s this season, scored twice in an EFL Trophy game against Bradford City which Hosannah missed through a hamstring injury that is now resolved.
Lincoln City loanee Robbie Gotts was in familiar territory at first, sitting on the bench for every minute of the first five League One games after his move, but he has played as a right-back in each of the Imps’ last four, earning 251 minutes of Football League experience. He played the full game against Manchester City Under 23s in the EFL Trophy and in both of Lincoln’s FA Cup fixtures.
Ryan Edmondson has also recovered from injury to gain valuable experience in the Scottish top flight. He has 320 minutes of league football under his belt, scored two and set one up in a win over Hamilton, came off the bench in the Europa League against Sporting CP and has started games against both Rangers and Celtic.
Mateusz Bogusz, sent to LaLiga 2 side UD Logroñés, has four starts but has been involved in all of the last seven games for which he has been available. His Polish Under 21 involvement has punctuated his domestic season in Spain but he still has 374 minutes of league action on his CV.
Bielsa is monitoring the loanees closely but appears happy with the overall success of the club’s policy.
“On a weekly basis we check to see how many minutes they are playing,” he said.
“The majority have managed to play a lot of minutes which allows the analysis to grow, this is very good for the players and for Leeds.”
Hosannah revealed to the YEP earlier this season that loan moves felt right for a number of the club’s youngsters, because it was the logical next step after Under 23s football.
“I know a lot of us were 20, 21 and getting to that age where we got a bit…
Read More:Bielsa on Leeds youngsters gaining EFL, FA Cup, Old Firm and LaLiga 2 experience