Marcelo Bielsa has backed Patrick Bamford to earn the opportunity to play for England in the future after missing out on a place in Gareth Southgate’s squad this week.
Bamford has been in fine goalscoring form for Leeds this season and has received widespread praise.
As a result, Southgate revealed he was considering him for international duty. However, when the squad for the World Cup qualifiers was announced on Thursday, he had picked Aston Villa’s Ollie Watkins instead.
The Three Lions boss has since remarked Bamford was “very unfortunate” to be left out.
But not one to be kept down for long, Bamford responded to that disappointment in fine fashion on Friday night. The striker scored one and assisted another as Leeds won 2-1 at struggling Fulham.
And while Bielsa does not believe his number nine was out to make a point, he is hopeful that he will be given a chance on the international stage.
“I don’t think he had that spirit,” he said in his post-match press conference (via Leeds Live). “He plays to be picked, but I don’t think he has the spirit of trying to prove someone wrong.
“The fact he was considered has a lot of value already. Perhaps in the time left he will get another opportunity.”
Bamford’s performance at Craven Cottage was even more impressing considering he was a doubt in the build-up. The 27-year-old was withdrawn in last week’s match with Chelsea after just 35 minutes through injury.
But he proved his fitness and started the game, lasting 77 minutes. By the player’s own admission he wasn’t 100%, but still had a huge impact on the outcome and Bielsa was pleased with what he contributed.
“He made a very big effort and I saw him play a very valiant game,” he added. “I saw him play well, generous apart from that. He also helped facilitate his team-mates having chances.”
Bielsa insists safety not secured
The win at Fulham, their first in London in 17 attempts, takes Leeds to 39 points. That has been enough to beat the drop in every season since 2010/11.
But while Bielsa praised his team for how they coped with the step up to the top flight, he is refusing to get complacent despite their seemingly healthy position.
“Important financial contribution to obtain the players we have,” he said on what has helped Leeds impress this term.
“Throughout the campaign the players have adapted and absorbed the level needed to play in this league. Like all the teams yet to be consolidated, there are highs and lows. With so many points still to play for, there are many things still to play for.
“These are speculations that will confirm themselves mathematically. With 27 points left to play, the safety is not confirmed.”
The Whites, currently in 11th place, will play five of their remaining nine games at Elland Road. That includes their next outing, a Yorkshire derby with bottom placed Sheffield United.