By David Woods

4th Apr, 2018 | 6:20pm

After sickening new Leeds injury, Heck must unleash rarely-seen fringe player v Sunderland


Paul Heckingbottom must give Tom Pearce his second Leeds start after the injury to Matthew Pennington on Tuesday night.

With Luke Ayling, Adam Forshaw, Liam Cooper, Kemar Roofe, Laurens De Bock, Tyler Roberts and Conor Shaughnessy already injured, the last thing Heckingbottom needed was any more casualties.

However, on a night when 3,500 Leeds fans watched a 2-0 defeat, and pretty much all of them would have to admit they were out-performed by a superior team, Heckingbottom got what he called a “kick in the balls” – a sickening double injury blow.

As quoted by Leeds.Live, Heckingbttom said: “He’s [O’Kane] feeling his groin, Penners done his calf, yes, so that’s a real kick in the balls, that.”

O’Kane was replaced by Kalvin Phillips and he’ll be expected to play on Saturday – the way O’Kane has been playing the Leeds fans won’t mind that one bit.

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However, he didn’t have to make a decision over who was replacing Pennington as he’d already made his three subs by that point.

On Saturday, against Sunderland, he should move Gaetano Berardi into the centre and play Pearce.

The 19-year-old left-back put in a decent enough shift on his debut – in the 2-1 defeat to Sheffield Wednesday – and should be given another chance against a Sunderland attack that has only scored 43 goals all season.

At the very least he’s a natural left-back and at best he’s got the potential to make the position his own.

Heckingbottom must give him the chance to prove himself on Saturday or risk alienating real talent in the youth ranks.

It seems like a no-brainer in a season that’s long been over and it could prove a blessing in another sickening injury blow for the club.

In other Leeds news, Leeds player ratings v Fulham: 24-y/o a hopeless 3/10, one shining 8/10 light

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