Has Leeds boss Neil Redfearn pulled a masterstroke in keeping Alex Mowatt and Lewis Cook away from the England set-up?

Leeds United Crest

The young duo are to remain with Leeds United for the international break.

Mowatt and Cook had both been called up to represent their country at youth level - Mowatt at Under-20, and Cook at Under-18 - for the ongoing international break.

However, they are to remain training at Thorpe Arch with Leeds United, after discussions between the respective national managers and head coach Neil Redfearn led to an agreement that will see Mowatt link up with the Under-20’s after they return to England from Portugal next week, allowing him experience of being part of the international fold.

Whilst many may suggest that Redfearn is limiting their careers at such a young age, with them not being allowed to represent their country, it must be remembered that Mowatt - who is 19-years-old - and Cook - who is just 17 - have already featured heavily for the Whites this campaign. Unlike the majority of the England youth squads, which are filled up by reserve and Under-21 players with little competitive experience under their belts, the Leeds duo have been a key part of the Yorkshire-based side’s first-team this term, and fatigue is likely to hit them hard if they were turning out for their country as well.

Redfearn has already admitted how grateful he is for the international break coming now, with him able to finally work on his side having taken over from Darko Milanic with a run of intense fixtures coming up. Four points from his first three games have set him up to kick-start the Whites season when Championship action returns next week, and he will looking to use the fortnight break in competitive action to get a feel of the squad which he has inherited - a squad that includes Mowatt and Cook.

Being able to let the young pair return to full fitness, whilst also planning his first-team around them, could turn out to be a masterstroke by Redfearn, with a number of other Championship clubs sending their stars away for international duty. Whilst opposition players will be fatigued from travelling around the world, Leeds will have a squad ready for the intense action that occurs between now and Christmas, and it could be the key factor in securing a rise up the division with a prosperous run of results.

It is a surprise to see a manager unwilling to release his young stars for international recognition, with the players likely keen on appearing for the Three Lions. But their loss might well turn out to be Leeds’ gain when the Whites face Blackburn on November 22.

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