Last week saw the day when Leeds United released their Retention List for 2016. As always, there were one of two surprises thrown in there, which for me at least led to a lengthy pub debate.
We all read about the Scott Wootton debacle last week, so we were expecting this one too. I am also pretty sure no one will mourn the loss of Wootton, and I am still placing the blame for at least 5 dropped points and an FA cup quarter final loss right at his feet.
Shame for Lewis Walters - looked very close to a debut in 2014-15, before that knee injury. #lufc— Phil Hay (@PhilHayYEP) May 20, 2016
The debate for me comes in the youth, mainly in Lewis Walters and Robbie McDaid: two players who from what I have seen in the past and heard on the grapevine, would be potential 1st team players in the years to come. Walters at the age of 21 was very close to a first team call up a few seasons back if it wasn’t for that horrible knee injury. McDaid, 19, a Northern Irish under-21 international, was a steal when we brought him over from Glenavon and from his loan to Lincoln earlier this year with Chris Moyses was singing his praises:
"You can see what a warrior he is. He closes centre-backs and full-backs down very quickly and gets involved in the game."
Now perhaps both of these players simply aren’t good enough. I don’t watch them week in, week out, and my opinion is mainly based on the opinion of others. But my question is, why not take the risk? Why not take players who clearly have potential, like McDaid and Walters, and send them on loan? Chelsea have a large number of 18/19-year-olds out on loan, it's a fairly common practice amongst good clubs. Why not get them off the wage bill and make a decision on them when they have come of age a bit more? Can you really say if a player isn’t 1st team material by the age of 19, and they never will be?
When the retention list was released this year it was the likes of McDaid that disappointed me more than Antenucci, but neither made sense.
On the other hand, we have offered new contracts to a number of youth players, and this is great. I’m sure we will see more of them in the future, but at a club the size of Leeds United, can we not keep a few more and edge our bets?
What do you all think; am I being a bit naive? Or would you have held on to the youth and loaned them out? Let us know in the comments if there were any players you didn't like seeing on this list. We'll have more on the rest of the Leeds United roster situation in the days ahead. #MOT.