Players will need good reason to miss Leeds United’s controversial tour

Leeds United's head coach Paul Heckingbottom.
Leeds United's head coach Paul Heckingbottom.
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PAUL HECKINGBOTTOM has warned Leeds United’s players that only those with “legitimate” reasons will be able to miss the controversial tour of Myanmar.

The Elland Road club have come in for heavy criticism since announcing the end of season trip to the country formerly known as Burma where the government is facing accusations of genocide and human rights abuses against minority groups.

Fabian Hamilton, the Labour MP for Leeds North East, yesterday became the latest to call for the trip, which will feature two friendlies, to be scrapped.

“It is our job, isn’t it?” said Heckingbottom when asked about the trip. “We are professional people. Would they (the players) be happy if it was held in Ibiza and it was a tournament, or something like that? It is a job, it is what you have to do.

“The club are going through the right processes to make sure it is a trip that goes off smoothly and a trip we get something out of.

“Players might have concerns and we have to put them to rest and make sure they are comfortable with everything.

“We are employed by the club. It is not me picking a squad based on football reasons. We have to go and do our job.

“But if there are concerns they have to be legitimate concerns and then there have to be things put in place to alleviate those concerns. It won’t be down to me saying, ‘Okay, you’re not going’. It has to be something legitimate.

“It will be a small squad, not ideal in terms of numbers we can take with the weather and lots of travel.”

Heckingbottom admitted the travelling party is yet to be finalised, but Pontus Jansson and Ezgjan Alioski will both miss the trip due to being on international duty. Pablo Hernandez, who has signed a new two-year deal with Leeds, will also remain at home due to his wife being pregnant.