By Mark Smith

10th Jan, 2022 | 6:10pm

Phil Hay: Leeds insiders baffled about Marcelo Bielsa reluctance to use Lewis Bate earlier

Phil Hay has insisted that people inside the club at Leeds United were baffled by Marcelo Bielsa’s reluctance to use Lewis Bate.

The young midfielder finally made his first-team debut against West Ham on Sunday afternoon, despite the Whites having a midfield crisis for months.

After an impressive start against the likes of Declan Rice, Bielsa made the decision to replace Bate with Stuart Dallas.

Writing in his latest piece for The Athletic, Hay shared that some were starting to question that reluctance.

“So if Leeds were down on numbers, central midfielders most of all, and Bate was ticking boxes at Thorp Arch, why the reluctance to push him on?” he wrote.

“In short, it was his decision based on his judgement and his prerogative to make it.

“But, closer to home, other people at the club wondered the same. What was it about Bate that was keeping him mothballed when dispatches from the academy said he had settled in so well?”

Strange.

Bate has been the talk of the town in the under-23s, but despite this, he was overlooked by the likes of Bielsa.

Jack Jenkins has had nowhere near as big of an impact in the Premier League 2 but has often found himself on the senior bench.

That isn’t a dig at Jenkins, but Bate has arrived as a seven-figure signing from Chelsea and has more than proved himself.

Hopefully, this is the first of many appearances and after finally making that breakthrough, Bate can expect to be around the Premier League squad much more often between now and the end of the season.

Leeds have tasted great success with their academy, with Joe Gelhardt being the main example, and Bate could be the latest to make a real name for himself – eventually.

In other Leeds United news, Phil Hay has shared if the Whites are in the ‘advanced’ stages of any January signings