COMMENT By Richard Parks
Paul Heckingbottom is making a massive blunder by giving the green light for Jack Clarke to jet out to Spain with the Leeds Under-17s rather than fast-track him into the senior squad.
As revealed by Football Insider today, highly rated Clarke will not be involved with the first team over the Easter period despite calls for his inclusion.
He will instead be playing in a youth tournament over the coming days with fellow teenagers.
It is easy to see why they are getting so excited about the 17-year-old wide forward, who has been having defenders for breakfast in the youth team.
Fans watching a live stream drooled over him on Friday as he tormented the Cardiff City defence and spearheaded Leeds Under-23s to a 3-0 win, their fourth consecutive triumph.
Operating as a left-sided forward, Clarke assisted the opening two goals and caused mayhem whenever he had the ball at his feet. The opposition couldn’t cope with his pace, trickery and quick feet.
The evidence is growing that the teenager is not just worthy of being promoted to the senior squad, but that he is a player destined to establish himself in the Premier League in the same way that fellow United academy product Lewis Cook has done this season.
Quite why Heckingbottom is willing to prepare for the clashes against Bolton on Good Friday and Fulham next Tuesday without Clarke is a mystery.
The York-born youngster ripped it up at Under-16s and Under-18s levels, and is now doing the same for the Under-23s.
He is ready now for a few first-team runouts and the side’s mid-table position, with play-off hopes in tatters, provides the perfect opportunity to blood him.
Heckingbottom’s caution serves neither Clarke or Leeds particularly well.
In other Leeds United news, 13 players are fighting for their jobs as behind-the-scenes planned laid for huge cull.