Bailey Peacock-Farrell is hoping he can continue his bright start to the season with Leeds and reward the faith Marcelo Bielsa has placed in him.
The Whites swooped to sign Jamal Blackman on a season’s loan from Chelsea and the former Sheffield United loanee was expected to assume the No 1 shirt for the Whites.
But it is Peacock-Farrell who has been given the nod at the start of the season – and now the 21-year-old goalkeeper is aiming to start for Northern Ireland in their UEFA Nations League opener against Bosnia & Herzegovina on Saturday.
And if he does get the nod, a big part of the reason will be the confidence he is carrying after helping Leeds make an unbeaten start to the season under Bielsa.
“To keep the number one spot has been a great achievement so far and we’re doing really well as a team – still unbeaten and we’re progressing quite well, I think,” the keeper, who has also revealed how England tried to battle for his loyalty, explained.
Peacock-Farrell was never certain of keeping the gloves to the start the season.
Although he finished the last campaign as Leeds’ number one, the arrival of Bielsa in the summer brought uncertainty, and there is added competition after the arrival of Blackman on loan from Chelsea.
But Peacock-Farrell was able to convince Bielsa he was the right man for the job.
“He’s shown that trust, he watched all the games (from last season) and decided to go ahead with me,” Peacock-Farrell said. “Obviously I had to prove myself again in pre-season and show him that he made the right choice. That trust is a big deal.”
Bielsa has also changed the nature of the role, following the prevailing trend in encouraging his side to play out from the back and use the goalkeeper as another outfielder at times.
Some goalkeepers struggle with the role but Peacock-Farrell – who started out as a winger while in Middlesbrough’s academy – has taken it in his stride.
“I’ve always been very comfortable with my feet, maybe because of my outfield past, but also in joining in with outfield players in training and warm-ups,” he said.
“I’m very much involved in pretty much all the training we do. I am very comfortable with how we play and the decision the manager made.”