Heckingbottom given ideal chance to bring Tom Pearce into Leeds side

Paul Heckingbottom Leeds manager gestures during the Sky Bet Championship match between Derby County and Leeds United at iPro Stadium on February 21, 2018 in Derby, England.

Tom Pearce is one of the most talented youngsters threatening to break into the Leeds United first-team.

Shinji Okazaki of Leicester City and Laurens De Bock of Club Brugge battle for possession during the UEFA Champions League Group G match between Leicester City FC and Club Brugge KV at The...

Having not featured in the previous three games, Laurens De Bock would have known how vital it was that he made the most of his chance to impress when he was selected for Leeds' trip to Reading last weekend.

De Bock's spell at Elland Road has not got off to the start that he would have liked and the fans are already starting to believe that Victor Orta has made another mistake on the transfer front by spending £1.5 million in January to sign the Belgian - fee reported by the Yorkshire Evening Post.

Paul Heckingbottom Leeds manager gestures during the Sky Bet Championship match between Derby County and Leeds United at iPro Stadium on February 21, 2018 in Derby, England.

Unfortunately for the defender, his performance against the Royals did not provide the supporters with the belief that he has the quality to turn his fortunes around, and Paul Heckingbottom must surely be considering his options heading into this weekend's game with Sheffield Wednesday.

It is a big game for Heckingbottom with some fans already doubting whether he is the right man to take the team forward - though most seem to realise that he was always going to face a difficult task at this stage of the campaign and deserves a lot more time before conclusions are drawn - so he may be forgiven for being cautious with his team selection.

However, with Wednesday looking woefully out of form right now - they have also only won once in the league since Boxing Day - Saturday's game may present the ideal chance for Heckingbottom to finally hand Tom Pearce an opportunity at left-back.

General view of Elland Road before the Sky Bet Championship match between Leeds United and Sheffield Wednesday at Elland Road on February 25, 2017 in Leeds, England.

Pearce is one of the brightest prospects coming through at Leeds and has been included on the bench on a couple of occasions after some wonderful form for the under-23s. 

With De Bock's confidence looking shot to pieces right now, Heckingbottom should, once again, take him out of the limelight and bring Pearce in against Jos Luhukay's side. 

There has been a significant lift in mood towards the goalkeeper since Bailey Peacock-Farrell grasped his chance with both hands, and there is no reason to think that Pearce would not be capable of taking an opportunity in his stride in the same way.

With few options available to him, Heckingbottom may want to persevere with De Bock in the hope that he adapts to his new club in time. But a poor performance in a derby would be terrible for the Belgian's belief. And right now, it is difficult to imagine that he would impress if selected again for Saturday.

Throwing Pearce in may be a gamble, but Heckingbottom will largely be praised for the decision however Saturday plays out, as the fans have wanted his introduction for a while. And if the decision pays off, then Leeds may have another academy starlet providing the fans with a huge reason for optimism ahead of the summer. 

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