Leeds United head coach Marcelo Bielsa on future of Ian Poveda

LEEDS UNITED head coach Marcelo Bielsa has stressed that Ian Poveda remains among a group of squad players currently competing for game time in the Premier League - but says that he will also have to fight off growing competition from his peers to earn further opportunities.

The former Manchester City winger made 17 appearances for the club last term, appearing off the bench 14 times in the Premier League.

Some speculation has suggested that Leeds may allow Poveda - not involved in last weekend's league opener at Old Trafford or in the under-23s game earlier this week - to leave Elland Road this month

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Bielsa said: "First of all, he has had a close passage through the first team and he also has the habit of competing with the 18 players who absorb the majority of the games in the Premier League.

Ian Poveda. Picture: James Hardisty.

"But there are also players who are also evolving and competing with him to be part of the group."

Another of United's young players in Niall Huggins is set to compete a loan move to Sunderland and Bielsa says that informed, careful decisions will be made regarding career development of the club's up-and-coming prospects and whether it is right for them to continue their education at Leeds or head out for experience on loan.

Bielsa said: "The young players of (Robbie) Gotts, Huggins, (Jordan) Stevens, (Bryce) Hosannah, (Ryan) Edmondson, these players who are part of the Academy/the under 23s team in the previous seasons, they have a process of development and growth.

"When they get up to a high or a peak during this process and development has been like it for each of these players that I have named, they have to compete for a place in a group that is very small which is the group that is chosen for the season.

"For all these youngsters, it would be ideal for them to be in the group that competes in the Premier League, but if they are not here there comes a moment that instead of staying competing in the under-23s, they need to look for a competition that is higher than the under 23s because if not their progress will be stalled.

"So the expectation of all of us is that they compete outside of the club for a year and that we find an evolution that invites them to bring them back into the fold.

"Without exception, every player that has gone out on loan, I see them every week, first of all because it is my function and secondly because you grow a bond between these players, an affection between them that these players that we have spoken about."