By Richard Parks
Paul Heckingbottom revealed at his media briefing that left-back Tom Pearce could be Leeds United’s next breakthrough player – and fans urged the manager to select him against Reading tomorrow (Saturday).
The academy product, 19, has been named in the United matchday squad on three occasions this season, twice in the league and once in the FA Cup, but is yet to make his senior debut.
Heckingbottom admitted yesterday that the rising star is on his radar as a result of his “really good attributes” and that he has a “chance” of being fast-tracked into the team, in what would represent a shock move, following a wretched run of one win in 13 matches dating back to Boxing Day.
Intriguingly, the United boss explained that he also enquired about the possibility of signing Pearce when he was manager of Barnsley, as quoted by the Yorkshire Evening Post correspondent Phil Hay via his personal Twitter account on Thursday.
On Tom Pearce, United's young left-back, Heckingbottom said he was someone he enquired about when he was manager at Barnsley. "He's got attributes which are really good. He's got a chance." #lufc
— Phil Hay (@PhilHay_) March 8, 2018
With Leeds’ hopes of securing a play-off spot in tatters, thoughts of supporters are turning to how the club can salvage something from a campaign that has failed to live up to expectations.
A section of fans would like to see more academy products join Bailey Peacock-Farrell in the team after growing sick of the same mediocre displays from the senior men.
Leeds signed Belgian Laurens De Bock in January but he has struggled to settle into the team, with the versatile Vurnon Anita used on the left side of defence in the last few matches.
The response to Heckingbottom’s revelation about Pearce was overwhelmingly positive, including “exciting news” and “please play him then”.
Here is a selection of their messages on Twitter:
PLEASE PLAY HIM THEN!!!!! Not Anita or De Bock. If we have a young talented LB get him in!
— Jonathan Fox (@foxy619) March 8, 2018
Give him a chance please.
— SJ (@MUZZA2017) March 8, 2018
After seeing how good bpf was last night Imo play other youngsters for example Tom Pearce. Anita imo isn’t a full back and keeps getting beaten by who ever runs at him. So give Tom Pearce a go or even Tyler Denton?
— Ashli Burchill (@AshliBurchill) March 8, 2018
Exciting news about Pearce but having paid money for seasoned pro de Bock, I’d want to see something more of him before throwing young Tom into a team lacking confidence & cohesion. De Bock had one dire game but looked ok in his first few. Don’t want Pearce ruined like Vieira has
— LUSC Griffin (@LUSCgriffinLUFC) March 8, 2018
What will that mean for Ian Harte and Denton
— Parma (@Parma_Official) March 8, 2018
Heard loads of good things about Tom Pearce (mostly on here) can’t be any worse than Anita
— Gary Casson (@CassGaz) March 8, 2018
— ZL (@SupremeJansson) March 8, 2018
In other Leeds United news, it can be revealed that the club have launched a bid to sign a Premier League centre-forward in the form of his life.