Phil Hay outlines Daniel Farke priority for Leeds United ace Archie Gray after 'huge compliment' he paid with what he did v Norwich City
Phil Hay says Daniel Farke’s priority for Leeds United ace Archie Gray is for him to get a rest when England Under-19s are next in action because he is too important to leave out for his club right now.
Farke was pretty pointed in his criticism of Gray playing three full games during the last international break but that did not stop him utilising the 17-year-old for the entire 90 minutes in the dramatic comeback 3-2 win with Norwich City.
That meant Gray has played four full games in the space of 11 days but the Athletic reporter does not think he will drop out versus Stoke City on Wednesday (25 October), saying Farke paid him a “huge compliment” by playing him against Norwich.
“Notwithstanding the alternatives, and notwithstanding Gray’s prior schedule, Farke’s preference was to keep him on, and to good effect. Saturday, all round, was a huge compliment to a prospect so young,” Hay wrote in the Athletic (25 October).
“There was a chance that the outlook would change away to Stoke City tonight (Wednesday), that Farke would give Gray a breather, although his comments on Tuesday were not those of a coach feeling tempted to rein him in.
“It is more likely that when the next international break comes along, Farke’s appreciation of Gray’s ambitions at that level will be countered by another message to England to treat him cautiously and to make sure the priorities are straight.
“The German said it last week: if it’s important to win — and it always is in the Championship — a manager plays his best players. And by definition, Gray’s fourth 90 minutes in 11 days tells him that, at 17, and a few months into his first campaign, he already ranks as one of those.”
With young players, there can be a fear of burnout if they are utilised too often at a young age and Leeds have seen plenty of players like that down the years – Aidy White being a prime example.
So, while Farke is clearly reticent to give him a break, the German will clearly be mindful of the fact Gray is still only 17 years old and that he has a huge workload on his young shoulders right now.
That being said, Gray has been absolutely superb for a Leeds side who have climbed to third in the table having racked up three straight wins in the second tier.
As it stands, Gray is frankly undroppable for Leeds. Whether playing in his favoured central midfield role, or as more of an inverted full-back on the right of defence (or even in a back three as he did towards the end of the Norwich game) Gray has been simply superb for Leeds.
In other Leeds United news, Sam Greenwood has surely played his last game for the club after what happened on Tuesday.