EUNAN O’KANE is the ideal role model to help Leeds United’s promising band of youngsters develop, according to head coach Garry Monk.
The 26-year-old moved to Elland Road from Bournemouth shortly before the summer transfer window closed. He has since become a mainstay of the side, starting the last eight games.
O’Kane’s influence has been evident in how the midfield now possesses much more control, his tendency to rarely waste possession a big plus in terms of the way Monk wants United to play.
“He is a clever player,” said the Leeds head coach. “He understands how I want to play and what his role in the team is. He is experienced and a good player. I brought him here to be the player he is and I feel he is delivering a good level of football.
“Him playing well is important to the team as it helps us to grow.”
O’Kane’s partner at the heart of the midfield in recent weeks has been Kalvin Phillips, the 20-year-old who until this term had just six starts to his name before this season.
He has also been joined in the side by teenager Ronaldo Vieira and Monk believes the tuition that his younger players are receiving from the Republic of Ireland international is invaluable.
“I want him to help the young players,” added Monk, “to set them a good example. He is a leader and understands what I want from him.
“He is very professional, hard working and brings a good personality. He is someone who can help the younger players grow.
“I have been a younger player and there were pros who helped us and some who didn’t help at all. When you sign players, you look at them as a person and he has fitted in well.”
United head to the West Midlands looking to inflict a fourth defeat in five outings on a Wolves side led by Walter Zenga, who was strongly linked with Elland Road before Monk got the job.
“It will be very tough,” said the Leeds chief. “Wolves have spent a lot of money and it is always a difficult place to go to. But we have to be focused on ourselves.”