By Richard Parks
Paul Heckingbottom has revealed that Samuel Saiz owes some “big performances” to Leeds United as he eyes a return to the team after serving a six-match suspension.
The Leeds manager delivered a strongly-worded verdict on the Spanish playmaker, who has not played since the start of January due to a ban for spitting at a Newport County player.
Speaking at a media conference on Tuesday to preview United’s clash against Derby County tomorrow night (Wednesday), Heckingbottom explained that Saiz is motivated to succeed as “he knows he let people down”.
However, the recently-appointed manager warned, as quoted by the personal Twitter account of Yorkshire Evening Post correspondent Phil Hay, that it will take some time for the number ten to “get back up to speed” after such a lengthy absence.
Heckingbottom says Saiz owes some big performances now. “He knows he let people down.” Says Championship games are totally different to training sessions and “it’ll take a while for him to get back up to speed.” #lufc
— Phil Hay (@PhilHayYEP) February 20, 2018
Saiz is one of three United players, along with defensive pair Liam Cooper and Gaetano Berardi, available for selection against Derby after serving suspensions.
The Spanish playmaker was hugely influential for Leeds in the opening half of the season, scoring nine goals and supplying five assists from 25 matches.
Football Insider verdict:
For Leeds to have any chance of securing a play-off spot, they will need Saiz to immediately discover his best form after his lengthy spell on the sidelines. The Real Madrid academy product is the real deal whose touch, vision and game understanding are a level above not only his Leeds colleagues, but also most of the players in the Championship. Heckingbottom is right in saying he owes the team some big performances after his appalling conduct at Newport, for which he immediately admitted his guilt and accepted his punishment. If Saiz is good, Leeds can be good, too. But it will be a concern that Saiz could take some time to get back up to the boil.
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