Marcelo Bielsa has told talented Leeds youngsters Robbie Gotts, Alfie McCalmont and Leif Davis to continue doing what they’re doing – but he admits he feels guilty over their lack of playing time and insists he would not blame them if they asked to be allowed to move on.
The Whites go into Saturday’s clash against Cardiff at Elland Road with a huge 11-point buffer to third place, though Bielsa was keen to guard against complacency when questioned on Thursday.
Bielsa notoriously keeps his first-team changes to a minimum and regularly keeps faith with a winning side.
And while that has its advantages, it means a number of their talented youngsters have had to wait patiently for their chance to get a look-in.
Much has been made about Jack Clarke’s lack of minutes since his return to the club on loan from Tottenham. But the likes of left-back Davis and midfielders McCalmont and Gotts – all tipped for big things – have also been left frustrated.
The trio have featured in the squad this season and while Gotts is yet to make his senior debut, Davis has featured just five times and McCalmont twice.
Assessing their situation, Bielsa said on Thursday: “They must be patient because they don’t have another chance.
“The other choice is don’t be involved in the team or show they are better than the players who are playing.
“Jamie Shackleton, Stuart Dallas, Adam Forshaw, Mateusz Klich are all in Gotts’ position.
“Gotts’ situation, I feel guilty about what is happening because he does everything to achieve his goal even though he didn’t have minutes. Only way I have, I have to be convinced he is better than the options I mentioned and there are something true how I am going to prove this if he doesn’t have minutes.”
Bielsa added: “This situation is unfair for Gotts. It’s very, very difficult to resolve. It’s difficult, but the reality is they are young players forced to say nothing and accept my decision. This increases this feeling I have I am worrying about.
“Gotts is in a special situation because he got a lot less than what he deserves. At the moment, I am not finding a fair situation to resolve this. In another moment I said to Robbie ‘I really hope you stay with us’, but I would understand if he thought it was better for him to leave. I would understand this. In the other hand I kept Gotts in the group because I believe he has options, but the situation I think Gotts has options, doesn’t mean I am going to give him minutes. This is more difficult when you have to manage the wishes of being human.
“Another thing is difficult to leave Leeds, it’s not convenient to leave here without thinking very hard, but I also understand in some situations the timing is key. Gotts is a player I admire for his skills and for his human qualities.
“Klich, Forshaw, Dallas I can say the same of.
“If any moment I think Gotts has no chance to overcome those players, I would tell him. If Gotts understands he doesn’t want to stay here, I would understand him.
“He expresses himself a lot because it is something for a lot of players in the same situation. I could say the same about Alfie McCalmont, Leif Davis and the other players as well.
“I realise you ask for those players about their futures, this model of thinking is for all the young players.”