Leeds United v Hull City - Rookie Ian Poveda eager to grasp chance in League Cup

Leeds United's Ian Poveda.Leeds United's Ian Poveda.
Leeds United's Ian Poveda.
FOR Leeds United’s supporting cast, opportunities to catch Marcelo Bielsa’s eye in competitive fixtures away from the Premier League in 2020-21 will not be commonplace.

It is why this evening’s encounter against Yorkshire opposition in Hull City will assume particular importance to those who are seeking to showcase their credentials for involvement in the club’s marquee fixtures in the Premier League.

Progression against the Tigers tonight would potentially provide two further precious chances in this particular competition later this month.

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Among that number is winger Ian Poveda, who has made just one start since moving to Leeds from Manchester City in January.

With Bielsa understandably having one eye on United’s home match against Fulham on Saturday – the club’s first game back in the big time at Elland Road since May 2004 – the likes of Poveda, Kiko Casilla, Gjanni Alioski and Oliver Casey are likely to come into his thoughts.

A potential full debut for record signing Rodrigo, whose introduction from the bench at Anfield provided drama in the way few could have expected, is also a tantalising option for Bielsa.

As far as Poveda is concerned, he has no truck with biding his time behind Helder Costa and Jack Harrison in league matches – mindful that as a young player in the early stages of his professional journey, patience can be a virtue.

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He is also shrewd enough to appreciate that working alongside them every day in training – and under one of the most astute coaches in world football in Bielsa – will bring long-term benefits if all goes well.

Poveda, whose sole senior first-team appearance for City arrived in the club’s Carabao Cup semi-final second leg against Burton in January 2019. I said: “I am happy for them, I am really excited, I want the whole team playing good. Ultimately, it makes me a better player.

“One of the reasons I came here is I want to improve, I am a young player. The players playing good makes me better, I want to work harder and train harder.

“We have a good team spirit in the changing room, that’s what I really enjoy, everyone is united, there are no little groups and some guys to the side.

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“All the lads are focused, ready to go to give our all. That’s what we showed against Liverpool. We did not get the result, which is unfortunate but we will keep pushing and give our maximum.”

Leeds claimed a moral victory of sorts after an outstanding offensive performance full of threat at Anfield, a display which prompted high praise in many quarters.

Leading Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville confidently predicted that Leeds would “scare the living daylights out of teams” based on that scintillating display, but for Poveda and his team-mates, the praise arrives with a caveat.

He said: The lads were happy with how we performed but we were disappointed with the loss. It was mixed feelings on the team bus.

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“Even though we performed really well the lads did not let that overtake the feeling of the result, ultimately that is important.

“He (Bielsa) was telling us that we did well, but we cannot forget the fact that we lost, we have to keep pushing and make improvements. He is always trying to make us better players, we are just grateful for that.”

Tonight’s tie is the first time that Leeds and Hull have ever faced each other in a Cup competition.

It is likely to be a sentimental occasion for Hull duo Lewie Coyle and Mallik Wilks, who both return to their former club.

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Coyle, who joined the Tigers in the summer in a £350,000 move from Fleetwood, is available again following suspension and eyeing a belated debut.

Hull supporters following the game remotely could get their first glimpse of free agent Austrian winger Thomas Mayer, who joined the club this week.

Last six games: Leeds WWWWWL; Hull LLLDLW.

Referee: D Webb (Co.Durham).

Last time: Leeds 2 Hull 0, December 10, 2019; Championship.

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James Mitchinson


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