By Joe Ellis

8th Jun, 2022 | 8:10pm

Leeds United first-team path must be cleared for Charlie Cresswell after int'l dominance

The England Under-21 side successfully booked their place in next year’s European Championships and Leeds United starlet Charlie Cresswell played a key role.

The 19-year-old provided an assist in a dominant display for Lee Carsley’s side as they ran out 3-0 winners against Albania at Chesterfield’s Technique Stadium on Tuesday 7 June.

It wasn’t just the assist that stood out from the Leeds academy graduate though who won an incredible 12 aerial duels as well as five clearances and 74 touches [LUFC Data on Twitter].

Those 12 aerial duels won was actually 11 more than any other player on the field as he really stamped his authority on the opposition and he’ll be hoping to do so again when the proper tournament kicks off next summer.

By then though, he will also like to be a more regular feature in the first team at Elland Road but he needs manager Jesse Marsch to clear a path for him to force his way in.

Currently, the Preston-born teenager has skipper Liam Cooper, Pascal Struijk, Robin Koch and Diego Llorente ahead of him in the pecking order and even 18-year-old Leo Hjelde has started to get games too.

That though was more down to the circumstances of injuries piling up at Thorp Arch than an ability judgement from previous boss Marcelo Bielsa and should the same occur again, Cresswell would likely be the first man to step in.

But even at 19 years of age, he is better than being the fifth choice in the Premier League and needs to see his playing time reflected as such by the boss culling some of his competition.

Nobody needs to be forced out of the club but if any reasonable offers come in for Koch or Llorente in particular, Leeds would be foolish to not look at them and see what they can get for the duo and if they want to make the switch, let them and allow Cresswell the chance to blossom in Yorkshire.

In other Leeds United news, Raphinha has rejected a juicy offer from one of the world’s biggest clubs but the transfer saga is far from over yet.