By Craig Scott

1st Jul, 2020 | 8:00pm

20y/o claims he could have made Bielsa XI despite being released by Leeds yesterday

Matthew Downing believes he could have made the Leeds United first-team if he hadn’t endured such an injury-plagued few years at Elland Road.

Downing, 20, was released by Leeds yesterday (Tuesday) when his contract with the Yorkshire club expired.

Fortunately, the young left-back does have another club lined up and he’s set to join non-league outfit Bradford PA on a free transfer now that he’s left Leeds.

But with Bielsa now able to name a bigger bench, the youngster reckons he would have been in contention to get into the matchday squad at the moment if he hadn’t been so blighted by injuries.

“I know I’d have worked for it,” he told The Athletic. “I can’t say I’d definitely have made it, because who can say that? It’s a bit of a bold statement and it can go either way.

“I’ve seen very good players who didn’t make it at Leeds and others who did. But I think I’d have had a great chance.

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“With the football I liked to play and the regime the manager’s running, I don’t think I’d have been miles behind some of the lads who are involved now. I’d have been just as committed.”

Downing has had such a tough few years at Leeds.

As much as he would have wanted to be a success with the Yorkshire giants, there is perhaps a sense of relief there that he’s left now and can start afresh in Bradford.

Of course, there is a major gulf between playing for Leeds United and Bradford PA but Downing might be able to revive his career in non-league.

We would love to see him rise back up through the divisions to end up at a team similar to the level Leeds are yet.

Who knows? Maybe he will return one day in the future.

In other Leeds United news, here’s why Gaetano Berardi was subbed off against Luton.