By Joe Ellis

19th Sep, 2022 | 8:17pm

Leeds United returning quartet 'huge' for club - Sky Sports pundit

Leeds United were able to give a number of senior players a good run out on Friday evening as the Under-21s took on Southampton.

Patrick Bamford was the star of the show with a hat-trick but Liam Cooper, Junior Firpo and Luke Ayling all got valuable minutes in their legs too.

Sky Sports pundit David Prutton sees the academy fixture as a huge deal for the quartet and subsequently for Jesse Marsch who needs his full squad back fit.

“First-team players Patrick Bamford, Liam Cooper, Luke Ayling and Junior Firpo all came through at least 76 minutes each on Friday and that’s huge for Leeds,” Prutton said in his Yorkshire Evening Post column.

“It felt like a busy start to the season which now has this break. There will then be another busy portion after the international break and then it will be the World Cup.

“But there is plenty of time now to get training work done and to get players back up to speed and back up to fitness. That game on Friday night was perfect for Leeds.

Needs more

One game won’t get these four players back to Premier League match fitness in a hurry and now that the Papa John’s Trophy game away at Crewe, due for tomorrow evening, has been postponed, there are fewer chances for minutes in the legs.

Leeds United could do with organising a friendly game in training against another Premier League or Championship side to not only get these players back to fitness but also keep the sharpness in the other players not on international duty.

Two postponed games have left the Whites very short of football and the likes of Jack Harrison and Marc Roca will need some game time before the visit of Aston Villa.

Marsch oversaw a good start to the season with Leeds but things have slowly started to go downhill since and he needs his troops on form and fit to go a full 90 minutes to change their fortunes and start the climb back up the league table having dropped down after other sides played.

In other Leeds United news, Premier League overspending has been calculated and it looks very good for the Whites, unlike their bitter rivals.