YOUNG goalkeeper Bailey Peacock-Farrell said he was capable of being Leeds United’s first-choice goalkeeper next term after another impressive display in Friday night’s 1-0 loss at Aston Villa.
United stuttered to their 19th defeat of an extremely disappointing campaign at automatic promotion hopefuls Villa, who claimed victory through Lewis Grabban’s 29th-minute header.
Steve Bruce’s side would have considerably added to their tally but for some more impressive stops from 21-year-old Peacock-Farrell in just his ninth start for Leeds.
The Darlington-born goalkeeper and Whites Academy product was promoted into the first team last month by head coach Paul Heckingbottom after United were plagued by errors from both Felix Wiedwald and Andy Lonergan.
Wiedwald’s future at Leeds is looking particularly bleak.
As such, United seem highly likely to look at other options over the summer but Peacock-Farrell said he was ready and capable of being a reliable No 1 next term.
I think, as a young player, sometimes you just need to get thrown in the deep end. You sink or swim and I think I’ve been swimming recently.Leeds United’s Bailey Peacock-Farrell
Asked if he could be United’s first-choice goalkeeper, Peacock-Farrell said: “Hopefully, yes. I think I am growing in every single game that I am playing in.
“I don’t feel out of depth as such and I am just enjoying the moment.
“In my opinion, I can do it but it’s up to the gaffer for next season who he decides to play. It’s far away.”
Heckingbottom took issue with Peacock-Farrell’s attitude after taking charge in February, saying he had become “a bit static.”
Peacock-Farrell, however, made the most of an opportunity to start against champions-in-waiting Wolverhampton Wanderers on March 7 and has remained in Heckingbottom’s line-up ever since.
“He’s showed his confidence in me and really thrust me in the deep end,” said Peacock-Farrell. “I think, as a young player, sometimes you just need to get thrown in the deep end.
“You sink or swim and I think I’ve been swimming recently. Sometimes you just need to wait for your chance.”
Leeds remain far away from where chairman Andrea Radrizzani wants them to be. They are 14th and closer to the drop-zone than the play-offs.
Heckingbottom, who has enjoyed just two wins in two months at Leeds, said: “You learn a lot from these moments. I’m learning a hell of lot about the players.
“We’re definitely as a collective nowhere near where we need to be so whatever changes are made, we want to produce a stronger team and a stronger squad.”
Despite speculation about his future, Heckingbottom, whose deal with Leeds runs to the end of next term, insisted that he expected to remain in charge beyond the summer.
Asked if he was clear on which players Leeds would seek to replace in the forthcoming transfer window, he said: “I’m getting a better idea every day.”