View: Vital Leeds United U23 remain in PL2 Division 1 to continue promising academy progress
Leeds United Under-23s finish their Premier League 2 Division 1 season with a crucial visit to Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium.
It’s not quite a must-win but the three points certainly wouldn’t be unwelcome for Andrew Taylor’s youngsters as, much like the senior side, they look to avoid the snare of relegation.
The pressure has only mounted with key man Crysencio Summerville ruled out so it is do or die for Taylor as he looks to swim at the deep end after his unexpected promotion from loan manager.
Mark Jackson was promoted to first-team duties as a coach after Jesse Marsch’s arrival in February, leaving 35-year-old Taylor to rally the troops for the fight ahead.
He’s actually done quite well, overseeing big home wins against Manchester United and Crystal Palace and narrowly losing on the road to Brighton and Chelsea.
The latter of those two results could really come back to haunt the Whites’ as their historical rivals are the team chasing safety at their expense, currently sitting in the drop zone a point behind and with a game in hand.
Much of Taylor’s and indeed Jackson’s reign has been handicapped by a constant shuffling of teenagers needed for the senior sides bench as a paper-thin squad and seemingly curse induced run of injuries left them relying on youngsters to fill the dugout.
Very few have actually garnered serious first-team minutes off the back of that and it’s left many in an awkward limbo of barely playing any football be it at senior or academy level.
Cody Drameh was the first to say enough was enough and has excelled on a loan spell at Cardiff in the Championship, whilst Summerville was interesting the likes of Hamburg before ultimately staying at Elland Road.
First things first the first team needs some serious reinforcements in the summer regardless of the Whites divisional status so that these clearly talented youngsters can develop playing week in week out for any side.
That is the first step and from there staff can make a more clearly evaluated decision on whether a player will benefit more from a loan move away or staying at Thorp Arch.
It’s vital however to ensure that strategy works and that they remain in the top flight of the U23 system this season.
Much of their recent success has owed to the lure the club holds with academy 1 status in a top division and it would be a big blow in attracting future young talent to Yorkshire if they were to go down.
The heat might be on the first team, but the U23’s certainly have their feet over the hot coals of relegation pressure as well.
In other Leeds United news, the club are chasing a deal for this Championship hotshot.