COMMENT By Richard Parks
It is something of an understatement to assert that Victor Orta has had it in the neck during his massive overhaul of the Leeds United senior and youth-team squads in the last 10 months.
A section of Leeds fans have pointed the finger of blame on the team’s underwhelming season firmly at the door of the director of football following a significant number of new arrivals that have failed to fire.
But Orta and his recruitment team can silence their many critics if one or two of their more youthful signings can establish themselves as first team stars.
The evidence is growing that Sam Dalby can not only graduate into Paul Heckingbottom’s side but can nail down a regular spot.
The striker, 18, was prised from non-league outfit Leyton Orient in the January window for a fee of around £250,000 and has made a major impact for United’s Under-23s.
He scored twice in their 3-2 win over Ipswich Town at Portman Road on Monday night to lift his tally to four goals from six matches for the team.
But it was not just the goals. It was the manner of them that stood out and should excite anyone with the club’s interests at heart.
His first of the evening was taken impressively as the ball rebounded into his path in the area after good work from left-back Tyler Denton. Dalby kept a cool head to pick his spot and smash home a left-footed effort.
The second was even more impressive. Latching on to a long ball from the back, Dalby bullied his marker out of his way took it in his stride before emphatically striking the ball low into the bottom left corner.
Dalby is a genuine star in the making. Standing at 6ft 2in, he is a strapping front man who broke into the Orient team last season aged 17 and scored on his full debut against Crawley.
Prior to joining Leeds, his appearances had been strictly rationed this season to protect him, but it is a measure of his calibre that he trialled for Palace earlier this season and has been targeted by the Championship big hitters as well as plenty of others in the Football League.
If Dalby continues to develop and keeps his feet on the ground, he can turn out to be Leeds’ shrewdest signing since Robert Snodgrass.
In other Leeds United news, it can be revealed that NINE senior players at the club are in Radrizzani’s firing line and fighting for their jobs.