Andy Couzens has backed Leeds United with their decision to continually play first-team players in the under-23s when they aren’t featuring in the Championship.
Leeds have named an unchanged XI in all three Championship fixtures so far this season, with players like Helder Costa, Ezgjan Alioski and Eddie Nketiah forced to watch on from the bench.
That trio, along with a few others, featured in the 23s’ 3-2 win over Millwall on Monday afternoon, which brought a mixed reaction from the Elland Road faithful.
However, despite those risks, Couzens feels the fringe players need the minutes.
“They’ve got to keep match-fit,” Couzens told Football League World in an exclusive interview with Chief Editor, Sam Rourke. “I think the under-23 team is important for the fringe players to get match-fit.”
“These are the games that you’re trying to show the manager that you’re good enough to play and get in the first-team.
“The biggest thing you need is to be match-fit, and if you aren’t playing any games at all, when you are called upon, you’re going to be a little bit behind everybody else in the first-team.”
Despite Leeds losing the likes of Bamford and Blackman to injury last year, Marcelo Bielsa continued to use this particular tactic throughout the season, as well as carrying it into the current campaign.
Couzens went on to underline how it can have a positive impact, he continued: “Last season we saw those that came in and out of the 23s – Jamie Shackleton for example – they just hit the road running, so, I think it’s a good thing.”