Leeds United manager Marcelo Bielsa has given an insight into Eddie Nketiah’s current situation at Elland Road as calls for the striker to receive more game-time continue.
The Arsenal loanee is yet to start a Championship match for the Whites, though that has had no obvious impact on his form as the youngster took his tally for club and country to 12 for the season on Tuesday night.
However, he remains behind Patrick Bamford in Bielsa’s pecking order, despite the former not having scored since August.
Speaking to the Yorkshire Evening Post about Nketiah’s lack of minutes on the pitch, the Leeds coach stated: “[He] is a player that, at the moment, is not in the starting XI. But, we are not being so efficient [with our finishing].
“It is natural that one striker – a goalscorer like him – is claimed by the people. He has scored four goals [for us so far], maybe he could score five. Obviously, people start to talk about if it’s Bamford or Eddie.
“But, football changes every day. In the last match [against Millwall], the public, the supporters recognised Bamford a lot. Maybe, it was the first time that the supporters recognised him, as they did in that match.
“For this reason there is a dynamic that changes every match. I am in charge, I have to try and manage the resources the team has,” Bielsa explained, before discussing his hopes for how Nketiah’s future in Yorkshire will pan out.
“For me, it is very important that Eddie has a good spell at Leeds. If Nketiah doesn’t do well here in Leeds, the responsibility is going to be mine. That will be fair because Nketiah is a player full of results and as coach, I have to know how to manage all this skill to improve the team.
“The person who most wants Nketiah to have success at Leeds is me, but also I value Bamford – I value him a lot. When someone takes decisions, they have to take decisions that have to last in the team. It is not just in response to the supporters, the public.
“It is about taking decisions that last in time, at the right moment, when the team needs it. After, I back the player who comes into the team. When one player deserves to be in the starting XI, after, I back them to stay in the team. Nketiah is in this process.”
11 rounds into the 2019/20 Championship season, Bielsa’s recruits lay fifth in the table, two points off of leaders West Bromwich Albion. Next up for United is Birmingham City on Saturday, followed by a trip to Preston on Tuesday.
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