Neil Redfearn has admitted that he has separated Leeds United training to decide upon which players will leave the club.
Leeds have already used over 30 players in just 17 Championship games this season, and since Neil Redfearn was appointed head coach on a permanent basis he has worked hard to minimise squad rotation.
Having utilised a number of academy prospects, with 19-year-old Alex Mowatt and 17-year-old Lewis Cook making the step up into the first-team, the former academy coach has selected a team based upon his vision for the club - a vision which doesn’t include the likes of Noel Hunt, Luke Murphy and Nicky Ajose. He has named a fairly consistent line-up since his appointment - with suspension the only thing bringing rotation - and the on-pitch effect can be visibly seen, with the performance in the victory over Blackpool displaying some of the best football seen at Elland Road in years - characterised by teamwork and talent combined.
Whilst his system is bringing a positive effect, it limits the influence of a number of the playing squad, many of whom will not appear again this season. To ease the transition heading into the January window, Redfearn confirmed to the Yorkshire Evening Post that he had already started separating the first-team squad into two groups - his squad, and the people allowed to leave.
“I’d like to give the young players here a bit of help and the right support, but at the same time we need to move a few lads on,” the coach said.
“It’s nothing personal and I’m not being difficult with anyone but there are players here who aren’t going to play any football.
“We’ve had a few enquiries and I’ve already started thinning down the main training group, setting up two different groups – just to stop my message getting diluted.”
Whilst it is wise for Redfearn to have a strong idea of who he intends to keep at Elland Road heading into the new year, it is a surprise to see him actively setting up two different training groups at this early stage. The players in the second squad will have no desire to work hard in training if they know they will be leaving the club at the earliest possible opportunity, and, for the likes of 25-year-old Murphy and 23-year-old Ajose - who are both young and talented enough to offer something to the squad - it is actively outcasting them from a squad that they could have serious aspirations for appearing in this year.
With over two months to go until the end of the transfer window, any number of the players in the second group could start to impress and work their way into the first-team, but Redfearn’s decision to outcast them from his squad has limited the impact they could make. If injury or suspension requires the coach to dip into his second-string for competitive action, he may have to call upon players who have no desire to turn out for him, having already been told they can leave the club. It is true that Leeds need to thin down their squad - especially if they intend to recover from their likely FFP punishment quickly - but for Redfearn to approach the scenario in such a brash manner shows a bad set of man management skills - and he will be hoping that his matchday skills can allow the squad to overlook his deficiencies.