COMMENT By Richard Parks
Anyone but Vurnon.
That appears to be the stance of Paul Heckingbottom, whose regular tweaks of the Leeds United team almost always result in the same outcome for the Holland international; a place on the bench.
Enough is surely enough for Anita.
He must instruct his agent to find him a new club after his latest inexplicable omission from the Leeds starting XI.
Anita, 28, was on the substitute’s bench for the 2-1 Championship win against relegation strugglers Barnsley on Saturday even though a slew of injuries and unavailabilities one again opened up starting roles both at full-back and in central midfield.
Makeshift full-back Stuart Dallas was joined long-term absentees Luke Ayling and Laurens De Bock on the injured list and Gaetano Berardi is out for the season but, instead of turning to rock-solid operator Anita, Paul Heckingbottom shoehorned Matthew Pennington into right-back and rookie Tom Pearce continued on the left.
With number one central midfielder Adam Forshaw only fit enough for a late cameo after weeks out with a calf injury, the manager ignored Anita and gave yet another opportunity to Kalvin Phillips as Ronaldo Vieira’s partner.
What does Anita have to do to get a game? The writing is surely on the wall after a baffling season for the Holland international.
Hailed as a super smart signing after being snapped up on a free last summer following the expiry of his contract at Newcastle United, he has made just 14 league starts out of a possible 44 and, when he has been used, it has mainly been as a makeshift left-back rather than in central midfield or right-back, where he played for the Premier League outfit.
Expected to be rock solid and mighty useful, perhaps one of the first names on the teamsheet, Anita has instead been a spare part and has not been on the bench for seven of the last eight matches.
He is now in the perplexing position of being fifth-choice right-back, and fourth-choice left-back.
As for his favoured central midfield role, Anita is so far down the pecking order, untested players in the Under-18s would probably get a go ahead of him.
The curious thing is that the Dutchman has actually played pretty well when he has been given a chance, in his understated way.
Clearly, Heckingbottom doesn’t fancy him, so Anita should demand showdown talks and set about the process of finding a new club.
What other option does he have?