By Mark Smith

17th Jan, 2020 | 7:00pm

Live from Loughborough: Leeds 19y/o becoming U23 star could provide long-term Clarke replacement

By Mark Smith at Loughborough University

It was just like watching the first-team as Leeds United Under-23s dominated and fell to a 2-0 defeat against Birmingham City on Friday.

The Whites were missing a number of their star men in Loughborough, with Alfie McCalmont and Jamie Shackleton not included before the trip to Queens Park Rangers on Saturday.

Carlos Corberan’s side missed a number of clear cut chances in the first half. The majority of them were easier to miss than score.

Debutant Joe Stanley should have scored twice, with Charlie Cresswell and Mateusz Bogusz also being kept out by an inspired Moha Ramos.

You also have to take into consideration that Jack Clarke has also been missing from the Under-23s since returning to Tottenham. One man that has stepped up in his absence has been Niall Huggins.

The Welsh youth international was not a massive name at the beginning of this campaign, but has definitely stepped up and cemented his spot in recent weeks.

He was impressive once again on Friday, without an end product. The 19-year-old has blistering pace, and at times makes it look even easier to glide past defenders than Clarke did.

Phil Hay revealed that Manchester City winger Ian Poveda was expected at the club on Thursday to try and complete a move, although Torino have also registered an interest.

Should that move collapse and Leeds fail to secure another winger to the club, it would be no surprise to see Huggins involved in the first-team before the end of the season.

Jordan Stevens is currently occupying that role under Marcelo Bielsa, but Huggins has been showing much more than him in recent weeks – something which could see the 19-year-old jump above him.

In other Leeds United news, MOT Tactics – Leeds defensive woes exposed as one player makes ‘unforgivable’ error