By Sean Fisher

16th Sep, 2022 | 10:40am

Leeds United youngsters need to be 'Gladiators' to reach first team - Michael Skubala

Leeds United youth coach Michael Skubala is on the lookout for combative and brave youngsters to impress in the Yorkshire club’s academy.

Following the postponement of Leeds United’s Premeir League clash against Manchester United, attention has turned towards the club’s Under-21s match against Southampton on Friday night.

A number of first-team players are expected to start, including club captain Liam Cooper, Luke Ayling and Patrick Bamford.

But Skubala will also be keeping a keen eye on a number of promising young players, and is looking to judge how they perform under the gaze of 10,000 fans at Elland Road.

“One of the biggest things that I think academy players don’t realise is when you speak to them in front of the 40,000 people, you can’t hear each other,” Skubala explained to the Yorkshire Evening Post.

“The crowd is making the noise and in a game that hasn’t got big crowds, you can obviously speak and help your players through games.

“But at certain points, they’re the gladiators and they have to go out there.”

Are you not entertained?

While this weekend’s postponed match means Leeds won’t be in Premier League action again until early October, Friday’s match against Southampton B still provides plenty of interesting talking points.

Seeing a number of injured players return to the fray will bring a smile to fans at Elland Road, while watching the newest batch of youngsters take to the pitch is always an exciting opportunity.

Alongside the return of Bamford, Leeds’ latest signing – Wilfried Gnonto – is also expected to feature after impressing Jesse Marsch in training.

The 18-year-old forward will be stepping foot in Leeds’ coliseum for the first time since signing from FC Zurich on deadline day, and will have the chance to wow fans before the squad disperses for the international break.

Darko Gyabi is another new signing looking to impress on Friday. The 18-year-old signed from Manchester City for £5million as part of the Kalvin Phillips deal, and has already caught the eye of Skubala since arriving.

Friday night will be judgement day for many of Leeds’ promising stars, and it’ll be worth keeping an eye on who sinks and who swims when under the watchful eye of Elland Road.

In other Leeds United news, a former Dutch player opens up on the club’s summer interest around Cody Gakpo