The young Leeds United Under-23 players will learn a lot from playing regularly with their senior counterparts, according to Danny Mills.
Speaking exclusively to Football Insider, the former Whites and England right-back delivered his verdict after a quintet of first-team regulars featured for Mark Jackson’s Under-23s against Stoke City on Monday afternoon.
Jackson praised Kalvin Phillips, Diego Llorente, Tyler Roberts, Ian Poveda and Helder Costa for their “fantastic attitude” as Leeds ran out 1-0 winners at Thorp Arch.
Llorente scored the only goal of the game after meeting a cross from Phillips with a perfectly-placed header.
Asked by Football Insider whether playing with first-team regulars will improve Leeds’ younger and inexperienced players, Mills said: “It should do, yes. Especially when those players have a good attitude.
“I always point to the example of Zlatan, he’s the perfect example of that. It’s like when Zlatan went to Manchester United people are going ‘ooh, I’m not sure. Is he past it? Is he really going to try that hard?’
“Then all of sudden he’s training harder than anyone else, he’s getting himself fitter than anyone else and he’s setting the best example. He’s going ‘You know what, I’ve got all the money in the world, I’ve got all the fame in the world and I’ve won every trophy there is to win out there but look how hard I’m working.’
“That will be the same for those Leeds players, obviously to a slightly different level. But they will look up to Kalvin Phillips and whoever else it might be and think ‘Actually, look at the attitude they’ve got, that’s what I need.’
“The thing that sets the best from everybody else is hard work. All those players in the Under-23s will have the ability, how hard are they prepared to work with what they’ve got?”