Noel Whelan fears “fuming” Jack Clarke faces a major battle to win back his place in the Leeds United squad after the team’s storming start to the season.
Speaking exclusively to Football Insider, the ex-United striker expressed his sympathy for the on-loan Tottenham winger after he once again fell victim to the strict EFL limit on the selection of loanees.
Clarke was omitted from the Leeds matchday 18 for last night’s 1-0 Championship win over Brentford at Elland Road, the second consecutive game in which he missed out completely.
“There is a bit of an issue there for Leeds,” Whelan told Football Insider. “Someone has to forfeit a place on the bench because of the rule, and Jack Clarke is the one missing out.
“This is the choice of Marcelo Bielsa, and it’s something he is going to have to carefully manage. Clarke is a big weapon to have on the bench and is a brilliant player to be able to call upon when you’re chasing a game or opening up defences on the counterattack.
“If it was up to me, I would forfeit the use of the young goalkeeper Illan Meslier. A back-up keeper is only on the bench for a freak injury. It rarely happens, and Leeds are betting off having a matchwinner like Clarke.
“He will be fuming that he’s not being picked, and you can’t blame him for that. I can’t see it changing soon, unless one of the loan players gets injured.”
EFL rules allow five loanees in a match-day squad and at Wigan last Saturday and against Brentford last night, Clarke was the odd one out.
Ben White and Jack Harrison were named in the starting XI, with Meslier joined on the bench by Eddie Nketiah and Helder Costa, who combined for the game’s only goal scored by the on-loan Arsenal forward.
Clarke, who joined Tottenham for £9.5million this summer before returning to Leeds on loan, has been given just 70 minutes of action this season, in the League Cup triumph against Salford City.
In other Leeds United news, one White has been described by BBC pundit as a “man possessed” who is “doing impossible things” for the club.