Versatile Jack Harrison proves his worth to Leeds United

Jack Harrison celebrates his goal. PIC: Simon Hulme
Jack Harrison celebrates his goal. PIC: Simon Hulme
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JACK HARRISON could not be certain about the description of his all-encompassing position against Queens Park Rangers.

Leeds United’s on loan Manchester City winger more or less patrolled the whole left flank. Left wing back?

Tyler Roberts is congratulated after scoring. PIC: Simon Hulme.

Tyler Roberts is congratulated after scoring. PIC: Simon Hulme.

“I guess, you’ll have to ask Marcelo about that one,” smiled the Whites star.

Bielsa explained: “He played in the left side as a full-back, a midfielder and a winger.”

Whatever it is labelled, Harrison excelled, with the City loanee admitting he was left toasting possibly his best Whites display yet as his integral role helped put Leeds United back in the top two.

Third-placed Leeds lined up for Saturday’s Elland Road assignment against Mark Warburton’s Rs looking to back up consecutive draws at Preston North End and Sheffield Wednesday with a third-straight home win that would send the Whites top of the tree.

With Harrison excelling, they got it but not without some severe head-scratching regarding United’s formation with even Harrison admitting his men were somewhat confused in the opening exchanges.

The Rs lined up with a back five behind a three-man midfield and two-man strike force with United subsequently shifting to a back three of returning skipper Liam Cooper, Ben White and Luke Ayling which left Harrison more or less running the entire Whites left-hand side in the absence of the injured Gjanni Alioski.

Ninety minutes later, Harrison had helped himself to a goal, an assist and a strong defensive display yet the level headed 22-year-old insisted three more big points in United’s automatic promotion quest were ultimately what mattered most.

“I’m extremely pleased, more about the result than anything,” said Harrison.

“We knew it was going to be a tough game going into it.

“They confused us a bit at the start with their formation and it took us five to ten minutes to figure that out but once we sorted that we were able to play our game as a team and capitalise on our chances.”

Assessing his own display and pressed if it was perhaps his best for Leeds yet, Harrison smiled: “It’s definitely up there. Every week I just try and work my hardest and try to do things like that.

“Sometimes it comes off, sometimes it doesn’t, tonight it came off and I am very grateful for that.

“I’m really chuffed to get a goal. I have been wanting a goal for a while now, the last time I scored was the first game of the season so I’ve definitely been trying for a goal for a while.”

Leeds were dealt two blows in the approach to the contest with their Arsenal loanee and England under-21s striker Eddie Nketiah suffering a lower abdominal injury in training on Friday and ruled out with Bielsa later revealing that the 20--year-old would have made his first league start for Leeds. A national newspaper then insisted on Friday night that Whites goalkeeper Kiko Casilla was heading for a lengthy FA ban of between eight and 12 games over alleged racial abuse during United’s win at Charlton Athletic at the end of September.

Despite reports that the case had been decided, the FA responded by insisting their investigation into such allegations were still ongoing.

Casilla once again started between the sticks and the Spaniard was called into dealing with just one Rs shot on target as United completely dominated with 18 attempts on goal compared to Rangers’ six.

Mateusz Klich and Patrick Bamford squandered fine early chances but Leeds eventually made the breakthrough six minutes before the break as Harrison cut inside before laying the ball off to Tyler Roberts who calmly slotted the ball home in his first league start of the campaign.

Lone striker Bamford then thought he had ended a ten-game goal drought when heading home a Roberts cross midway through the second half only to be flagged offside but United killed the Rs off when Harrison darted into the area before coolly converting eight minutes from time.

Leeds have still only conceded eight goals in 15 games - the best defensive record in the EFL - and Harrison said: “They have got a very strong attacking side and we were aware of that going into the game. We knew how important it was to try and control that as much as we could so I’m very, very happy with the team.”

Leeds United: Casilla, Ayling, White, Cooper, Dallas, Phillips, Klich, Roberts, Harrison (Davis 84), Costa (Hernandez 77), Bamford. Unused substitutes: Meslier, Berardi, Gotts, Bogusz, Clarke.

QPR: Kelly, Wallace, Hall, Leistner (Kane 54), Ball, Rangel, Manning, Chair (Pugh 63), Eze, Wells (Mlakar 72) Hugill. Unused substitutes: Lumley, Amos, Scowen, Osayi-Samuel.

Referee: G Eltringham.