Leeds United manager Paul Heckingbottom has revealed that the threat posed by Bolton Wanderers winger Sammy Ameobi was the reason behind his bold snub of Tom Pearce from the senior side on Friday.
The young left back had looked like he would retain his place in the first team after impressing on his debut in the defeat to Sheffield Wednesday, but instead found himself axed by the manager in favour of Gaetano Berardi, the Swiss full back switching from the right over to the other flank.
Now Heckingbottom has revealed that it was former Newcastle man Ameobi, who joined Bolton on a free transfer last summer, which impacted his thinking, and resulted in him choosing the experience of Berardi over Pearce for the 2-1 win.
He told Leeds Live: “It’s a great experience for him. Seeing what it’s about.
“All the other boys in his group as well, it’s shown there’s a pathway.
“They also know it’s not easy. I felt it was important that we put Berardi there against Sammy Ameobi who’s a big threat for them. And Bera handled him well, so yeah, today it was the right thing to do, definitely.”
Football Insider verdict
Pearce might be feeling hard done by considering his impressive debut but considering Leeds picked up the win, Heckingbottom can claim he made the right decision on this occasion. Still, Berardi is by no means a natural left back and has shown his struggles in the role throughout the season, and Pearce must be feeling confident of breaking back into the first team sooner rather than later. This also shows that Heckingbottom is constantly analysing the opposition and picking out strengths and weaknesses, something Thomas Christiansen seemed to avoid doing before him. If his tactical nous can start to pick them up some more wins, then the Leeds faithful will no doubt forgive him for axing the youngster.
In other Leeds United news, Heckingbottom’s shock revelation about this £4.5m Whites player proves why the club are nowhere near the play-offs.