Marcelo Bielsa has pulled the Under-23s out of the Leeds United EFL Trophy opener tonight – and the club will instead field a team made up of Under-18s, Football Insider can reveal.
The United manager has decided to keep the U-23s fresh instead for a full-blooded match against the first team at Thorp Arch tomorrow.
A Leeds source has told Football Insider that Bielsa wants his seniors properly tested in training as they make final preparations for Saturday’s Premier League opener against Liverpool at Anfield.
In what is an unusual and surprise move, it means an extremely callow side of teenagers only will take to the field for the EFL Trophy opener against Accrington Stanley at the Crown Ground for Tuesday’s 7pm kick-off.
It is Leeds’ first match in the competition, which also features group stage encounters against Blackpool and Barrow.
The exposure of the older age group to the EFL Trophy was hailed as one of the main benefits of Leeds securing Category One academy status earlier in the summer.
The competition has been made up of third and fourth-tier English sides since its inauguration.
But, following the addition of the Category One academies in 2016-17, Premier League clubs have also been able to field a youth team go give them crucial senior exposure.
Bielsa’s priority is getting his first team in top shape for the weekend’s mouthwatering opener against Jurgen Klopp’s champions.
It means the best of the Under-23s – possibly the likes of Pascal Struijk, Joe Gelhardt, Leif Davis and Oliver Casey – will instead by pitted against the Leeds first team at their training ground headquarters.
In other Leeds United news, club tipped to sign Tyler Roberts after huge development.