Daniel James has revealed how Leeds United boss Marcelo Bielsa has pushed him on to find form in his unorthodox striker role.
The Wales international has made his name as a winger and arrived as such from Manchester United in the summer. Indeed, James made the long-awaited move to Elland Road after a deal collapsed in 2019.
However, the 24-year-old has recently starred as a centre-forward in the absence of Patrick Bamford.
The Englishman has long proved Leeds manager Bielsa’s favoured target man and impressed in the Premier League last season. Nevertheless, Bielsa also admires versatile players and James has added that to his game.
On Tuesday, he bagged a first-half brace in a thrilling 3-3 draw with Aston Villa. He could even had a hat-trick before the break, had he not hit the bar.
And James has revealed how Bielsa has been inspiring such performances in training.
“We spoke about it the other day, I want to score more goals and get more assists,” James told Leeds’ official website. “I have to keep believing and making those runs.
“I’ve got two but I need to keep pushing and keep making the runs. The gaffer keeps telling me to get in these positions, so if you’re not there you don’t score.”
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James caused Villa defender Tyrone Mings countless problems in the first half at Villa Park.
In fact, he scored his scrappy second goal at the near post after beating the centre-back to the ball.
Mings faced criticism for the error – and other mistakes. James said: “For the second I tried to head it and I think obviously I’ve gone up and he’s gone up with me, so his push meant it hit my head on the way down. I’ll take it all day!”
Bamford remains out following a series of injuries in recent weeks, so James will likely feature again against Everton on Sunday.
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Leeds travel to Goodison Park looking to get a first win in three games.
Everton, meanwhile, will welcome Frank Lampard to the club’s home ground for the first time in the Premier League as their new manager.
What’s more, the two clubs remain in and around the relegation battle.
Leeds‘ draw with Villa put them six points ahead of the bottom three. Everton, though, sit only two points clear of the relegation zone, their situation made worse by the defeat to Newcastle.
Left-back Luke Ayling said of Saturday’s match: “We always try to win games and we’ll carry on playing how we’re playing and I thought we earned the point in the end.
“We played well in the second half, played in their half a lot more and stopped the counter-attacks, so a point was a good result.
“Now we’ve got another huge game against Everton.
“They’re on a tricky run of form, but it’s Frank Lampard’s first game in the league there, so the place will be rocking and it will be a good game.”
Leeds and Everton drew 2-2 at Elland Road earlier in the season.