BRIAN McDERMOTT has leapt to the defence of Jimmy Kebe after the loanee came in for criticism from a section of Leeds United supporters.
The 30-year-old moved to Elland Road in January and has struggled for form in his eight appearances.
At Queen Park Rangers last weekend, some of the away fans made it plain that they wanted Sam Byram brought on in Kebe’s place.
McDermott, who managed the winger at Reading before signing him on loan, said: “Let me tell you about Jimmy Kebe, I have been here before with him.
“Jimmy was at Reading and we signed him while Steve Coppell was manager. He didn’t play too much under Steve, but he got in the team with me and he got a little bit of stick from the crowd.
“I kept working with him and he became a crowd favourite. I know what he is capable of.
“What I will say about Jimmy is that if you look at the statistics, he ran more than anyone on that pitch on Saturday (at Loftus Road). That is a fact. His high intensity sprints meant he did more than anyone on that pitch. That is a fact.
“We need to get him the ball in areas in the final third and we want our wingers to create and the wingers more than anybody need the fans. They need the fans to be onside.
“Now we want Jimmy to show what he is really about, as we do with Cameron (Stewart). I had that conversation with Cameron (yesterday). I want him to express himself and make things happen.
“We were looking for a winger for quite some time and we have got two now. Let’s embrace them and get the best out of them.
“I am talking about running, which has a meaning and makes a difference. Jimmy is running for the team, working for the team. There is no doubt about that, in my opinion.
“I have seen it. What the fans want is to see our wingers going past people and getting crosses into the box.”
Tomorrow, Leeds return to Elland Road for the first time in five weeks.
McDermott was absent during United’s last home game – the 5-1 win over Huddersfield Town – due to the farcical events that saw the manager sacked and then reinstated.
He said: “It will be great to come back home, even if I had an extra week. It is not going to be strange, I am just looking forward to coming back home. We have got 14 games to go and we really have to go out on the front foot and take as many points as we can.
“I feel there are exciting times to come for Leeds United. I watched the game back against QPR and there’s no doubt about it – we should have won that game. We have to start turning our draws into victories now.
“Sometimes you have to risk things and that is what we have been working on this week before the Bolton game.”