Leeds United are crying out for an injection of hunger and youthful exuberance, despite Javi Gracia’s side having earned a vital point against Brighton and Hove Albion amidst their recent poor form.
Although it seemed like a positive point gained, with other results in the Premier League going against them the Whites have now dropped into the relegation zone and seemingly will face another tough, nervy run-in.
With Jesse Marsch’s January acquisitions yet to all embed, and crucially none of them having been Gracia’s signings, it remains to be seen what impact they might actually have on their bid for survival.
What the Spaniard can control is perhaps promoting youth players in his image, who might be able to disseminate his ideals due to their eagerness to learn.
With Brenden Aaronson continuing his abysmal form on Saturday, being handed a woeful 6.1 Sofascore rating, it is the American who arguably needs replacing more than anyone. Therefore, Connor Douglas stands out as the candidate to fulfil that role.
Who is Connor Douglas?
The 17-year-old attacking midfielder has enjoyed one of his most creative campaigns thus far for the U18s, even earning a call-up to the U21s where he would translate his blistering form.
Having scored five and assisted two in just 13 U18 Premier League games, the teenage sensation had proven himself a force to be reckoned with despite his youth. This was only supported when he bagged two goals in two Premier League 2 cameos, continuing his development without breaking stride.
This has all come from out wide too, so perhaps handing him starts in his favoured position could see these numbers only bolstered.
With the ability to maintain his form at higher levels, there is reason to believe he is worth a shot in the place of Aaronson, who has scored just once all season. The 22-year-old has now gone 11 league games without a goal contribution, with his 6.51 average Sofascore rating serving to supplement his misery.
It may be a risk to throw a youngster into the fold at this stage, but he can hardly do worse than what stands in his place. At the very least, he deserves a place on the bench where exposure could be seismic for his development.
Indeed, the bar has been set so low that Douglas can play with complete freedom, and should this experiment succeed it could prove to be a masterstroke that saves Leeds this term.
In his debut for the U21s, he was given a glowing review by journalist William Jackson, as he wrote in his player ratings: “His first appearance in the U21s side and he took the opportunity to shine. Looked a real threat and found two goals with impressive finishes.”
Should Gracia hand him a further opportunity to now shine for the first team, this exciting young gem could be the next starring product of Leeds’ illustrious academy.
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