Why Sam Byram's exile from Leeds United's first-team has to end for Hull City clash

Elland Road pitchside

The right-back will not have featured for the Championship side for over a month by the time Hull visit Elland Road on Saturday.

Sam Byram's Leeds United future may be in the balance, but if Steve Evans wants his own future to be secured for the time-being, then he needs to bring the defender back into the side for the club's next game against Hull City.

Byram has not featured for the Whites' first-team since coming on as a late substitute during the victory over Cardiff City at the start of last month. His exclusion could initially have been put down to a poor run of form, but with the rest of the squad also struggling, Saturday's defeat to Queens Park Rangers appeared to be the final straw for disgruntled supporters.

The Yorkshire Post reports that the fans that travelled to Loftus Road began chanting for the 22-year-old in the second-half. However, Evans suggested that his contract situation and form were the reasons for his continued absence (via Yorkshire Post).

With that in mind, it is difficult to point the finger of blame at Byram on both fronts.

The Yorkshire Post reported that Massimo Cellino had asked for the right-back to take a pay-cut when he sat down with the player's representatives last year to discuss extending a contract which runs out at the end of this season. Understandably, given that he was showing considerable improvement with almost every performance, Byram was not willing to accept such an offer. 

The continued failure to reach an agreement has seen Cellino criticise the youngster, which - when Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United are interested (via the Daily Star) - is hardly the best way to convince the player that staying in the Championship is the best thing for him. 

Then there is the matter of his form. Leeds' notorious inability to find the kind of wingers that put pinpoint crosses on a plate for strikers was severely tested when Uwe Rosler arrived at the beginning of the season and insisted on using a 4-3-3 formation.

With Stuart Dallas arguably being Leeds' only natural winger when the season commenced, the attacking-minded Byram was shifted from the right side of the defence, and used as part of a front three. The move did Byram no favours, as he seldom appeared on the wing, but rather in a position that suggested that he did not quite know what was needed from him.

The realisation that he should only be in attacking positions after overlapping the midfield from deep, rather than being relied upon as a constant source of creativity, came too late to drastically rectify the situation. Apart from the late arrival of Jordan Botaka, the Elland Road outfit did little to accommodate Rosler's system, so Byram remained an option for the winger role.

Now Rosler has gone, and Evans has proved that he is much more fond of a conventional 4-4-2, the academy graduate's return to his best position was deemed as a solution to the question over his form. And thus, many were surprised that Byram was not instantly the player that was being touted for a Premier League move.

However, having probably spent much of pre-season working on a new role, it seems extremely unfair to expect Byram - who was the club's Player of the Year in 2013 - to immediately rediscover some of the attributes that he had put to bed to thrive in a more advanced position.

In his absence, Evans has used both Gaetano Berardi and Scott Wootton on the right of the back four. And while the Swiss defender has done well, he is suspended for the Hull clash due to the red card he received against Rotherham last month. 

Meanwhile, Wootton has shown that he is probably United's strongest utility man, as he can fill in in several positions. However, his performance against Huddersfield in particular - where he was lucky to avoid a second yellow - highlighted that he is not capable of dealing with the calibre of wingers plying their trade in the Championship. 

With promotion-chasing Hull City next to visit Elland Road, it is now time for Evans to ignore events off the pitch and pick his best side - which includes Byram - to try and keep one of the most ruthless sides in the division quiet. 

A run in the side to show how good he can be, as well as a contract offer which reflects his true value to the club, could be all it takes to convince Byram to commit his future to Leeds. However, it is up to the club to make the first move by ending his exile and starting him against Hull.

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