By Alex Stevens
Garry Monk has hailed the maturity of Leeds academy product Ronaldo Vieira.
The brilliantly named teenager has established himself as a key member of the team after impressing Monk when he took over as manager in pre-season.
Monk has shown a willingness to rely on players from the productive Leeds academy, with Kalvin Phillips, 21, also emerging as a first-team regular alongside senior left-back Charlie Taylor, 23.
But it is Vieira’ startling development this season which has really caught the eye and also effectively ended the careers of two mainstays of Steve Evans’ 2015-16 team, Luke Murphy and Toumani Diagouraga.
With Leeds hit hard by suspensions and injuries, Vieira was the only recognised central midfielder in Monk’s starting line-up for Tuesday’s 2-0 win over Reading.
The manager once again chose to overlook Diagouraga, 29, and Murphy, 27, both of whom have been frozen out of the first team set-up since August and who are not simply marking time at Leeds due to the emergence of Vieira and Phillips.
Monk explained why he has showed so much faith in Vieira.
“He’s so mature for his age,” Monk said, as quoted by the Yorkshire Evening Post. “He’s listening. He’s got ability and he knows that but he’s critical of himself.
“Because he listens he’s growing all the time. I took a good look at the group when I came in, the Under-23s and the 18s. I felt we could do something with him and we can all see the potential he has. It’s just about bringing it out of him.”
Vieira has made 18 Leeds appearances this season, 14 of which he has started, including a notable 10 starts in the notoriously competitive Championship.
The teenager is in contention to start in midfield in Saturday’s home clash against 14th-placed Brentford at Elland Road.