By Alex Stevens
Luke Murphy must improve the defensive side of his game to nail down a regular starting place at Leeds.
That is the verdict of manager Steve Evans as he assessed the value of the 26-year-old midfielder following the Championship club’s thrilling 3-2 win over Reading in the Championship at Elland Road on Saturday.
Two goals from Chris Wood and a Toumani Diagouraga strike secured the three points for Evans’ side as they clinched their second victory in five days, following the 2-1 midweek triumph at Birmingham.
With Liam Bridcutt once again out injured, Murphy started his fourth consecutive match for Leeds and his 22nd start in total this season.
Evans is an admirer of Murphy’s technical qualities but has outlined what he must do to retain his place in the team.
“We’ve said to Luke Murphy that he won’t get into the team just passing – he has to be courageous and make tackles,” said Evans, as quoted by the BBC Leeds website in the aftermath of the win over Reading.
“In the last month you’ve seen him be as good as anyone in both departments. He’s a real stalwart of the team and we were able to get fresh legs on around him.”
Woods’ double inspired the Yorkshire giants their first win at Elland Road since 5 March and lifted them to 54 points and 12th position in the Championship table.
Leeds’ win came in difficult circumstances as a virus in the camp have left them without the services of captain Sol Bamba and Tom Adeyemi, while Evans claimed that a number of other players were “under the weather”.
They are also without injured duo Liam Bridcutt and Mustapha Carayol as well as suspended pair Souleymane Doukara and Alex Mowatt.
Speaking afterwards, as quoted by the Leeds Twitter account, Evans said: “I was worried about today. We had four or five players suffering with illness, but we deserved to win in the end.”
In other Leeds news, Evans has explained why he thinks Cook is better than Moussa Dembele.